Bone of Contention

The Centre should handle the sensitive issue of Article 35-A more judiciously

Fayaz Bukhari

Article 35-A is an emotional topic in Kashmir. The Centre has handled the issue in such a way that it has brought mainstream regional parties and Separatists on the same page here. Emotions run high whenever there is any talk of Article 35-A. And it hasn’t helped that the Centre has done nothing about handling the situation well. They have not made any efforts to bring the Separatists into the mainstream unlike the previous governments at the Centre.

NC president Farooq Abdullah during a press conference

The two main regional political parties, National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have gone an extra mile in defending Article 35-A by linking the panchayat and municipal elections with it. These two parties boycotted these elections and wanted a clear stand of the Centre and state governments on the issue.

The two parties, however, blame the Centre for linking these polls with Article 35-A by taking a plea before the Supreme Court for deferring the hearing as the state is holding elections for panchayats and municipalities.

The NC and PDP wanted the Centre to clear its stand on the issue ahead of the polls. As the atmosphere in the Valley was surcharged over the issue, the two political parties wanted to respect the public sentiment. They thought that taking part in these polls would further erode their bases and make their workers the target of militants.

“How can we go to our workers and ask them to come out to vote? First, do justice to us and clear your (Centre) stand (on Article 35-A). If your plan is that (tinkering with Article 35-A), then our ways are separate. Then we cannot have elections. Not only these (urban local bodies and panchayat) polls, but we will also boycott the assembly and Parliamentary elections,” said NC President Farooq Abdullah.

He said the Centre and state governments hurriedly announced the ULB and panchayat polls. “First, they should have talked to us. They should have called every leader about their plan to conduct polls and asked for our opinions. They did not. The Prime Minister, like Hitler, announced on August 15 from the Red Fort that elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Abdullah.

National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s remark on Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution being an ‘aberration’ further added fuel to the fire. “Their (Centre’s) intentions are not right. They never were. The NSA has said that a separate Constitution for Jammu and Kashmir is an aberration. I want to tell him from this stage that if the Constitution is an aberration, if Article 370 or Article 35-A is an aberration, then this accession (of Jammu and Kashmir to India) is also an aberration,” said Abdullah.

“They cannot control this state if they cause any further problems here. If they want this state together with the country, then they should stop what they are doing,” warned the NC President.

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