National Conference President Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said his party would continue to challenge the Centre’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in the Supreme Court and through any other “democratic means”, PTI reported. Abdullah mounted a legal challenge in the top court against the move in 2019, contending that the order was unconstitutional. The court has set up a five-member bench to hear the matter.
On August 5, the Centre split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories and stripped it of autonomy under Article 370. It also revoked Article 35A, the law which allowed the government of the former state to define “state subjects” and reserve for them certain rights, such as the right to own land and hold government jobs, as well as a separate Constitution.
The former chief minister told PTI that the changes were a “betrayal of the trust” reposed by the people when the erstwhile state acceded to the Union of India.
“We are seeking justice from the highest court of the land because of our faith in the judiciary,”Abdullah said. “We are very clear that we do not accept the changes forced on us and will continue to oppose them. We will fight for our rights, campaign for our rights within democratic means. We are a democratic mainstream party and will use all democratic means at our disposal.”
After the Centre had announced its decision, the state was placed under the most complete lockdown in its history, with restrictions on movement, a communications blackout and mass arrests. Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – were locked up.
The former chief minister said that because of such actions of the government, there is a loss of trust among the people of the erstwhile state. “...And New Delhi has to rebuild the trust,” he added. “That trust will come only when the statehood is restored and other changes are reversed...We are looking up to the Supreme Court.”
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Abdullah also questioned the government’s claim that the decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was central to the Union Territory’s development and to end militancy in the region.
“They [The Centre] said J&K will progress once this thing [Article 370] is removed, militancy will disappear,” Abdullah said. “I would like to ask those people, has militancy disappeared? It has increased rather than decreased. Any development? Zero development. Whatever we had we have lost even that.”
The former chief minister also spoke of the suffering of the people, which he said has only amplified, because of the “trauma of August 5” and the subsequent coronavirus pandemic. “We desperately need peace but also restoration of our honour and dignity taken away without consulting the people most affected by the drastic changes,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has planned a 15-day-long programme in Jammu and Kashmir from August 5 to mark the first anniversary of the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status. BJP members will organise ceremonies and the tricolour will be unfurled in all the zonal, tehsil and district headquarters.