Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday said that the people of the state will not feel safe in the region if Article 35A of the Constitution was repealed, reported ANI. Abdullah attacked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, saying its proposal to scrap the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir will not benefit any region of the state.

Article 35A of the Indian Constitution empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define who can be regarded as permanent residents of the state and grant special privileges to such individuals. The provision bars citizens from other parts of the country from acquiring immovable property in the state, taking up jobs with the state government, availing state-sponsored scholarships, or settling permanently anywhere in the Valley.

“Surprisingly, the BJP has made an issue out of Article 35A,” Abdullah said. “They say it benefits Kashmir, but adversely affects Jammu. Will someone who wants to buy land in this state do it in Kashmir? Take it in writing that before going to Kashmir to buy land and look for jobs, they will come to Jammu.”

The former chief minister added the separatist groups like the Hurriyat Conference had no say in the matter. “The Hurriyat, which does not believe in the Constitution of India, has no business to comment on Article 35A.”

Plea in Supreme Court

A three-judge bench of the apex court will hear a petition challenging Article 35A on August 29. A Delhi-based NGO, We The Citizens, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2014, demanding that Article 35A be repealed because of its “unconstitutional character”. During a hearing on July 17, the Centre had sought a larger debate on the matter.

Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar on Monday said that a five-judge Constitution bench will hear the matter if it is found that Article 35A is beyond the ambit of the Constitution or if there were procedural lapses in the matter, PTI reported.