JAMMU: Kashmir confusion is touching new low with mainstream and separatist camps fiercely fighting over proprietary to seek retention of Article 35A of Constitution of India, currently under the consideration of Supreme Court.
Article 35A empowers the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature to define the classes of persons who are, or shall be, permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects-employment under the State Government; acquisition of immovable property in the State; settlement in the State; or right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide.
Driven out of power, National Conference is spearheading the campaign in favour of Article 35A in the mainstream camp while the separatists too have joined the bandwagon by slamming attempts of scrapping this proviso. In the process a verbal dual has begun with former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioning the rationale of separatists too opposing removal of Article 35A, saying, “Separatists had no right to talk about Article 35A as they don’t believe in the Indian Constitution”. To this the separatists have retorted back, “The outcome of abrogation of 35A will severely affect and dilute the case of right to self-determination for which people of Kashmir have been struggling and sacrificing for the past 70 years.”
The allegations and counter-allegations have, for the first time, brought separatists and mainstream players face to face. Both the groups are using choicest invectives against each other in a bid to corner the opposite camp. Perhaps, it is for the first time in 27 years when any mainstream party has taken separatists, more so Syed Ali Geelani, head on. NC has gone public in saying, “If the current revelations of financial dealings (by NIA) involving his (Geelani’s) immediate family are true, it will prove that Geelani’s investment in the conflict is self-serving and self-seeking at a blood-soaked, devastating cost to the common people.” Geelani is the person who was more in demand for the National Conference when Dr Farooq Abdullah sought support for sailing through in the Srinagar by-polls to Lok Sabha. The NC President had pledged to support Hurriyat for the ‘genuine cause of nation (Kashmir)’ and even sought the help of Jamat-e-Islami, the political face of Hizbul Mujahideen. Farooq had said on 3rd April 2017, “Today this is not a battle between Farooq Abdullah and this alliance but a larger battle for our very survival with dignity and honour. Today all of us, including our brothers in Jamaat-e-Islami, have to come together to fight RSS or our identity and honour will be wiped out,”
This time around, a surprising political development took place when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met her party’s bête noire Dr Farooq Abdullah over the raging controversy on Article 35A. This is how the North Pole and South Pole can meet in Srinagar when it comes to ganging up against India. On the contrary, Jammu is still wavering in its response to Article 35A with National Conference playing the Dogra card.
Interestingly, National Conference has developed love of sorts for Maharaja Hari Singh, who was invoked by Omar Abdullah while substantiating his case over Article 35A. During his entire political struggle, Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference kept assailing “autocratic tyranny of the Dogra rule” and nearly 70 years after his departure from the scene, he is being projected as a hero and Messiah of the cause of Jammu and Kashmir, as per convenience. How ironic. It is the same National Conference which, along with Congress, staged a walk-out on 27th January 2017 from the Legislative Assembly over a resolution passed by the Legislative Council to declare Maharaja’s birthday as a public holiday. At that point of time, National Conference almost endorsed the venomous statement of Syed Ali Geelani, saying, “The people of Jammu and Kashmir were exploited and subjected to extreme barbarism during the rule of Hari Singh”.
Kashmir mainstream and separatist outfits have exposed themselves for playing politics of convenience and opportunism. Mainstream parties are playing hide and seek to remain relevant in the Kashmir politics while separatists have not been able to decide during the past 27 years whether they stand for Azadi or merger with Pakistan.
Kashmir confusion is getting compounded day after day.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper