Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday warned against any tinkering with Article 35(A) of the constitution that is being debated in the Supreme Court and which empowers the state legislature to define “permanent residents” and accord special rights and privileges to them.
Strongly defending the constitutional clause, Mehbooba said that any change in its status would invite repercussions and mean that nobody would be able to protect the Indian national flag in Jammu and Kashmir.
She said that mainstream parties like the National Conference and her own Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) risk their workers’ lives who stand up and carry the national flag in Kashmir.
“Any tinkering with the article won’t be acceptable. I won’t hesitate in saying that nobody will even carry the corpse of the National Flag in Kashmir (if the article is scrapped). Let me make it very clear,” she said at an event here on Kashmir.
The Chief Minister said that by employing such tactics, “you are not targeting separatists who have an agenda to secede but you are weakening the forces who have accepted India, participated in elections. They make efforts to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with India with respect and dignity. You are weakening them.”
The Article 35(A) is being challenged in the Supreme Court by NGO ‘We The Citizens’ on its legal basis because the article was never presented before the Parliament and executed on the orders of President of India.
The provision was implemented in 1954 when then President Rajendra Prasad used the powers conferred on him by Article 370 to introduce the “Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954”.
Under the article, citizens from other parts of the country cannot acquire immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir or take up employment with the state government.
The Supreme Court has now referred the case to a three-judge bench for a larger debate over it.