Political unity must for defending Article 35A: Zaffar Shah

Under the article, state laws have barred non-residents from purchasing land in the state and the issue is in focus with a Kashmiri woman, Charu Wali Khan, recently filing a petition seeking changes in the constitutional provision as she wanted succession rights though she is settled outside the state.

The plea in Supreme Court comes at a time when a debate on Article 35A of the Constitution, which entitles the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define Permanent Residents of the state, is brewing in political circles. He alleged that it was a BJP and RSS conspiracy to erode the special status of the state. Abdullah said that the State Subject Law is for the state's welfare and is equally important for the Jammu and Kashmir's three regions. "[Abrogation of Article 35] would be far greater revolt and I wonder whether they [government] would be able to hold that", said Abdullah while talking to reporters after the meeting at his Gupkar residence. "The state government has to be extremely cautious and ensure that best possible defence is projected before the court", he said. "It has been done from Maharaja's time to prevent others from coming here to dilute our culture".

"All parties - whether in Jammu or Kashmir or Ladakh - will try to make people understand that what effect it (abrogation of the Article) will have on the state", he said.

The Supreme Court sent notices to both state and Centre government last month for a response.

Abdullah reminded J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of her statement in which she had threatened to quit if Article 35-A was tinkered with.

Taking a dig at the PDP-BJP coalition government, he said State government had the representative in the Supreme Court and unfortunately the State government did not put a high class representation before the apex court.

The petition had said that the continuance of the temporary provision of Article 370 even after dissolution of the state's Constituent Assembly and its Constitution which has never got the assent of the President of India or Parliament or the Government of India, "amounts to fraud on the basic structure of our Constitution". "It is their plan and we as a united front will be going to people so that they know the fallout from this".

Vanessa Coleman