SRINAGAR: A day after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti warned against tinkering with Article 35-A, which grants special status to the State, her ruling ally BJP on Saturday countered her saying the Article has done more harm to the State than any other provision of the law.
State BJP’s chief spokesman, Sunil Sethi, said statement of Mehbooba on Article 35-A doesn't depict true picture and is politically incorrect.
He said Article 35-A is introduced in Constitution of India through process of Article 370 and has lead to “only disparity and inequalities in the state”.
“As Article 35-A saves state subject laws from applicability’s of concept of equality, it has lead to situation on unequal treatment of female state subjects and their children within state,” Sethi said.
While addressing a two-day conference, “Understanding Kashmir: A Composite Dialogue on Peace, Stability and the Way Forward” in New Delhi yesterday, Mehbooba had said, “If Article 35-A was tinkered with, no one, neither the opposition National Conference nor our party (PDP), who hold the national flag in Kashmir despite risks, and despite attacks on our workers, will be left to hold that”.
Article 35-A confers special rights and privileges on permanent residents of the State and debars non-residents from buying land or property, getting a government job or voting in State Assembly elections.
Sethi said though BJP stands by Agenda of Alliance (AoA) framed by PDP and the party for running a coalition government in the state and won't seek alteration of existing constitutional position but it is equally true that Article 35-A has created more harm to state than any other provision of law .
“The state subject laws, which are protected by Article 35-A , are also responsible for slow growth and progress of state, which has become fiscally dependent on grants of Central government in absence of less investments and infrastructural projects. Outsiders are reluctant in investing their money in J&K and despite having abundant natural resources, State is in a financial mess because of self-isolation,” he said.
Terming Mehbooba’s statement as “not happily worded”, BJP spokesman said, “Bearing national flag in the state is an honour for all citizens and our party firmly believes that every person of J&K is first Indian and then state subject. The nationalism of people of state can't be understated by linking it with continuation of Article 35-A.”
“Though BJP stands politically for maintaining present constitutional position but complete justice will happen to the people of the state when all laws propagating inequality would go,” added Sethi.