Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. It's enactment to Indian Constitution was done through Presidential Order of 1954 as a subsequent development to 1952 Delhi Agreement between the then Prime Minister of J&K Sheikh Abdullah and the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Article 35 A bars the outsiders from purchasing land, being hired by state government for jobs and some scholarships. It introduced a state-subject law enjoyed by the permanent residents of J&K.
Article 35 A, one among the 490 articles of Constitution of India, has become the much debated and controversial article in recent past when the BJP took over India. Many of those who sympathise with the RSS also label the said article which is possibly the only knot between Indian Union and J&K, a"TOXIC LAW". More recently, the debate gained much attention when a Delhi based NGO, 'We the Citizens' filed a petition in Supreme Court of India challenging it's constitutional validity.
The petition filed by NGO challenges the validity of Articles 35 A and 370. It says that the said articles are against the very basic spirit of 'oneness of India' as it creates a 'class within a class of Indian citizens' which is a violation of Article 14 of Indian Constitution. Nonetheless, the NGO doesn't seem to look in the Northeast of India where other states of India also enjoy special statuses. However none among them enjoys the autonomy like the J&K state.
And this is because the relationship between erstwhile princely state of J&K and rest of India has been guided through Article 370 only three entities viz The Defense, The Foreign Affairs & The Currency.
The hard fact which is not being understood is that the way J&K became a part of India is totally different from how the rest of Indian states became a part of India. J&K has only acceded to India whereas other states have merged with the union of India.
The attempts to abrogate 370 or 35A are therefore the attempts to abrogate the 'accession' of the state with the Indian Union.
Hence it would act as a recipe for tremendous disaster in state which is already in chaos since long.
It was noticed that soon after the hearing of Article 35A was taken up by Indian Supreme Court, protests erupted across the state and in some places police lathocharged the protestors.
There was complete shutdown across almost all parts of J&K- Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh etc. In
Pir Panjal from Mandi to Mendhar, Darhal to Buddhal, Surankote to Thanamndi whole region was deserted with traffic off, schools closed and the shutters of business establishment down.
It is blatantly wrong and childish on part of any Indian to believe that abrogation of 35A would result into normalization of dispute of Jammu and Kashmir through aspired demographic changes.
The former Chief Minister and President Peoples' Democratic Party, Ms Mehbooba Mufti has warned that 'there won't be anybody left out to carry the tricolor in Kashmir' if anything happens with article 35A.
Omar Abdullah, Former Chief Minister and National Conference Leader also called it's abrogation as the death knell for pro-India politics in the valley.
The fear mongering against abrogation of Article 35A is so deep that there would be a huge resistance to India from the all sections of the state. The shutdowns are a warning of consequences and ramifications which India must take very seriously in order to avoid any disastrous crisis that would have an impact not only on J&K but India as well.
The hardcore ultra rightists, Bhartiya Janata Party and its allies need to understand the fact that if situation becomes ugly in J&K it may engulf in itself whole subcontinent which would be a challenging task for anyone to handle.
The other side of the story is that BJP in the last Parliamentary elections had promised to scrap Article 370 if it comes to power in 2014. This was a treacherous political gimmick. It has exploited the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir for the votes.
As the General Elections of 2019 are coming again the party to score political points before elections is once again exploiting 370 & 35A as their development agenda has failed completely.
But to score vote, playing with fire can be dangerous. As the people of J&K cutting across religious, regional, political barriers would stood against any dilution of state's special & autonomous status, like never before.
About the Author: Aquib Wani is a student activist from Rajouri. Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views of the author are strictly personal and do not necessarily represent the views of the Pir Panjal Post