Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing unique convergence despite divergence between the State Government and the separatists. Both can take vicarious pleasure for being on the same page over Article 35A. This happened when the PDP-BJP Government was in place and this is happening even now when the State is under Governor’s Rule.
Two days ahead of the much hyped hearing on Article 35A in Supreme Court, a letter purportedly written by M. Shoeb Alam, Advocate on Record and Standing Counsel for the State of Jammu and Kashmir at the Apex Court has sought adjournment in Items Nos 18 and 18.4 in the Chief Justice’s Court on Friday 31st August 2018. The items relate to Article 35A. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has not thus far denied the existence of the letter, currently viral on social media. Therefore, this is to be taken as confirmed view point of the State Government being ruled by the new Governor.
The Advocate on Record cites the reasons for adjournment, inter allia, the ongoing preparations for the upcoming Panchayat/Urban Local Bodies and Municipal elections across the State. This implies that the State Government, under the direct control of the BJP led NDA Government at the Centre, does not want to proceed in the judicial process on gender-discriminatory Article 35A, which is also seen in the Jammu and Ladakh region as a provision distancing the State from rest of the country.
This is precisely what the Kashmir secessionists, the highly radicalised terrorists and the soft secessionist mainstream parties of the Valley and their lackeys in Jammu want. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has obliged them all. However, the mute question arises that if the Centre and the State Government’s don’t want the judicial process on this important issue to proceed or progress, why they take recourse to hilarious excuses. The State Government’s Standing Counsel is seeking adjournment on the plea of election preparations even though the dates for Panchayat or Municipal elections are yet to be announced. By this logic, the atmosphere will never be conducive in Jammu and Kashmir for bearing the brunt of verdict on Article 35A. After the proposed Panchayat and ULB elections later this year, the State will be going for Lok Sabha elections early next year. And, then who knows about the Legislative Assembly elections, which can take place anytime. Therefore, the ploy of ‘fragile’ atmosphere will never allow judicial process on important legal issues.
There appears to be a clandestine understanding between the Government at the Centre and in the State and the rest of anti-Article 35A brigade. While the government remains always in obliging mood, the known elements keep resorting to blackmail and browbeat tactics.
On the issue of Article 35A, Kashmir is passing through the phase of protests and bombardment of aggressive statements, full of warnings of blood bath, seceding links with India and what not. Those questioning the accession of the State with India and challenging the Constitution of India too have joined to save this constitutional proviso. They are employing sinister tactics to browbeat the Centre.
On 27th August 2018, twelve persons were injured when clashes broke out between protestors and security forces in the Valley following the ‘rumours’ about scrapping of Article 35A. The protestors turned violent and indulged in massive stone-pelting on the security forces.
Who had spread these rumours and what was the motivation? The law enforcing agencies have failed to nail the rumour mongers, who wanted some people to die in order to have the Courts influenced about possible backlash in case the Article 35A is repealed. Had the law enforcing agencies tried to reach the rumour mongers, Mirwaiz Manzil would have got exposed. Remember the post clashes reaction of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who said the “spontaneous and sharp reaction of the people of Kashmir to a rumour about Article 35A of the Constitution should be eye-opener for the government that no tampering would be tolerated with the constitutional provision”.
Seen in this backdrop, it will be interesting to watch the fate of the plea made by J&K Government’s Standing Counsel for adjournment. If Supreme Court adjourns the hearing, the Centre and the State Government has a reason to feel upbeat.
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