Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said on Saturday he would fight until death to retain the Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, and warned that if the article is tinkered with, the fallout will be difficult to control, PTI reported.
The Article 35A grants special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Supreme Court is considering petitions challenging its constitutional validity. The court will hear the pleas next on August 27.
“I will fight against them till I go down in my grave,” the National Conference leader said. He said “they only remember Kashmir and not Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland”, which also enjoy the privileges.
“You will see the situation yourselves [in Kashmir if Article 35A is tinkered with],” he said, according to PTI. “Delhi will also then see it and it will be very difficult for them to control it.”
However, Abdullah dismissed the suggestion that anyone would actually change Article 35A. “They cannot touch 35A,” he said. “The Constitution bench has twice said about it already. I do not know why they try to scratch this wound every time. The more they scratch it, the more blood there will be. Time has come for them to stop scratching it.”
Another former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, on Saturday welcomed reports that two MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state had defended Article 35A.
“Defending the special status of J&K is not confined to a region or religion anymore,” she wrote on Twitter. “People of the state have realised its importance and sanctity. For the past two years, while our government was fighting the case legally in court, I stood alone in this political battle emphasising that any dilution of Article 35A will set the state on fire. Today I feel relieved that regardless of political views or affiliations, we are all on the same page as far as protecting the special status of J&K is concerned.”
Last week, BJP MLA Rajesh Gupta had spoken in support of Article 35A, and earlier on Saturday, another MLA, Gagan Bhagat, followed suit. Their stance is different from that of the party.