SRINAGAR: Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Monday vowed to protect Article 370 of the Constitution, while participating in the official Kashmir Martyrs’ Day function, which leaders of the coalition partner BJP gave a miss.
It was the first time in the state’s history that a partner in the ruling coalition hadn’t been represented at the official function held in memory of the 22 people shot dead outside the Central Jail here by the troops of the then Dogra Maharaja on July 13, 1931.
Sayeed along with his ministers and party colleagues visited the Naqshband Sahib Martyrs’ graveyard at Nowhatta in the city’s downtown area and paid homage to those, who had sacrified their lives for a common cause.
BJP spokesperson Khalid Jehangir said the Kashmir Martyrs’ Day function was not “significant” for the saffron party. “Politically we are not aligned with the PDP, or the National Conference for that matter. We’ve forged an alliance with the PDP for good governance”, he said, adding that BJP president Amit Shah had called a meeting of state party leaders in New Delhi and hence all the BJP MLAs and ministers were away.
However, PDP spokesperson Mehboob Beg took strong exception to the BJP Ministers skipping the official function, saying that the Martyrs belonged to the state and not to any particular religion, region, caste or creed and that their “sacrifices must not be forgotten or belittled”. “To attend the official function to pay respects to the Martyrs was an obligation that the BJP Ministers ought to have fulfilled and any deviation from such a precedent is inappropriate,” he said.
Earlier, addressing a gathering at the function, Mufti said, “Jammu & Kashmir has a unique status and identity. The power of the J&K Assembly is supreme and no other Assembly is so powerful in the country. If Parliament passes a law, it is the J&K Assembly’s prerogative whether to implement it or not. J&K has a separate Constitution. We have a state flag alongside the national tricolour and we also have state subject (law),” he said.
“People of the state have shown the strength of the ballot by voting overwhelmingly in a series of elections since 2002. You voted for change in 2002 and this time you decided that a government will be formed here. However, the mandate given to us was like being asked to stand on one leg,” he said, in an indirect reference to the hung verdict in which the PDP got only 28 seats and the BJP 25.