Kashmiri separatists on Sunday threatened to launch widespread protests if the Supreme Court ruled “against the interests and aspiration of the people of the state” after hearing petitions challenging Article 35A, the Hindustan Times reported.

On Monday, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and D Y Chandracud will hear four petitions – three clubbed with the main one filed by NGO We The Citizens – that want the article scrapped.

The NGO had challenged this constitutional provision, which grants the Jammu and Kashmir legislature the power to define the “permanent residents” of the state and provide them with special rights and privileges. Article 35A bars citizens from other parts of India from acquiring immovable property in the state, taking up jobs with the state government, availing of state-sponsored scholarships, or settling permanently anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir.

“If the state-subject law is removed or any amendment introduced, people from other states of India will purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir and a Palestine-like situation will arise,” separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said in a joint statement, urging people to launch mass protests if Article 35A was diluted. “We will safeguard the integrity and special status of the state at any cost.”

The NGO has challenged Article 35A’s legality in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was never presented before Parliament and was implemented on the president’s orders in 1954. Under the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954, the provision appears as an “appendix” in the Constitution and not an amendment.

Several leaders, including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had warned against the law being repealed, fearing violent agitations in Jammu and Kashmir. In July, the Centre had been reluctant to file an affidavit in the case because it was a sensitive subject.