The legal challenge to Article 35A - the heart and soul of Article 370 that grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and privileges to the citizens of the state, news that was broken first by Mail Today and followed diligently - has ruffled the separatists as well as principle opposition party in the state, the National Conference.
While separatists - hardliner and moderate factions of the Hurriyat Conference and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) - on Saturday called a bandh in the Valley to protest the serious legal battle that awaits the Constitutional provision in Supreme Court, which the right wing has time and again called a "fraud on the Parliament" as it was passed by presidential or executive assent without ever going to the parliamentary process of amendment in 1954, NC accused the BJP to be trying to stoke the fire of communal division among the people.
SEPARATISTS CALLED FOR BANDH
The separatists said the strike was also against the continuous killing of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian forces. NC alleged that the abrogation of the provision would adversely affect people of Jammu region, a charge vehemently denied by the BJP. Incidentally, RSS-supported think tank Jammu Kashmir Study Circle (JKSC) is one of the petitioners against the controversial article. Also, they have argued that such fundamental provisions as Minority Commission was absent from the state.
The NC called for a referendum in Jammu on Article 35A. It announced a campaign to educate people about benefits of Article 35A with the inauguration of a seminar by party working president Omar Abdullah on August 14. He would also inaugurate another seminar in Kashmir on the same day. The NC, though, hit out at Pakistan for interfering in J&K. Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakria on Thursday had accused India of trying to alter the demography of Jammu and Kashmir.
NC provincial president Devinder Singh Rana said the statement issued by Pakistan seemed to be part of a conspiracy to make the issue to pave way for its abrogation. He said the debate over Article 35A was neither Hindu versus Muslims nor Jammu versus Kashmir.
"We are part of India and we are Indians. Constitution of India and Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir govern our living and existence but we have been vested with certain rights and we will protect those rights." The BJP accused the NC of trying to create a fear psychosis among people of Jammu over Article 35A.
"We are taking a serious note of the statement. Rana tried to create a scary picture of the ill-effects on the people of Jammu if Article 35A is held illegal by the SC. He is creating a fear psychosis," BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta said, adding, "His statement - Jammu will be affected far more than Kashmir since no outsider will like to settle there but will flock in hordes to settle in Jammu - clearly indicates the mindset of his party that has always advocated politics of exclusion."
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