National Conference president Farooq Abdullah today said he will fight for Article 35-A until his death, warning that the fallout of any tinkering with the Constitutional provision would be difficult to control.
Article 35-A, which gives special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is currently facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
“I will fight against them till I go down in my grave,” Abdullah said, adding that “they only remember Kashmir and not Himachal (Pradesh), Arunachal (Pradesh) and Nagaland”, which also enjoy the special position.
Asked how he sees the situation in Kashmir if the Article 35-A is tinkered with, he said, “You will see the situation yourselves, Delhi will also then see it and it will be very difficult for them to control it”.
Abdullah, who is also the Member of Parliament form Srinagar constituency, however, sought to dismiss the uproar around the legal challenge to Article 35-A of the Constitution, saying no one is going to touch it.
“They cannot touch (Article) 35-A. The Constitutional bench has twice said about it already. I do not know why they try to scratch this wound every time. The more they scratch it, the more blood there will be. Time has come for them to stop scratching it,” the NC president said on the sidelines of a function here.
When the reporters pressed him hard on the issue, Abdullah in his usual style said, “35-A ko mariye goli. 35-A chalta jayega (shoot 35-A, the issue will keep going on).”
On August 6, the Supreme Court had said a three-judge bench would decide whether the pleas challenging Article 35-A should be referred to a five-judge Constitution bench for examining the larger issue of alleged violation of the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A Khanwilkar had adjourned the crucial hearing on as many as five petitions “to the week commencing from August 27” on the grounds that they pertained to the challenge to a Constitutional scheme and could not be heard as the third judge, Justice D Y Chandrachud, was not present on that day.
Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state.
About India-Pakistan relations, Abdullah expressed hope that they would be fruitful under the reign of Imran Khan, who will be sworn-in as the country’s prime minister on August 18.
“I expect a new Pakistan, a friendly Pakistan, a Pakistan free of terrorism and marching towards the future and strengthening the SAARC which will be vital for this entire area,” the NC president said.
Abdullah said he was confident that New Delhi would cooperate with Islamabad if the neighbouring country “gives up terrorism”.
“I am sure New Delhi will cooperate if Pakistan gives up terrorism, the whole world will cooperate,” he said.
Asked about Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s recent statement on former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the Goa Institute of Management, Abdullah said the spiritual leader was right in saying what he said.
“I am happy that Dalia Lama has apologised on what he said about Nehru, but one thing is correct that when they all were there, Mahatma Gandhi had indeed offered Jinnah to be the prime minister. However, Quaid-i-Azam (Jinnah) denied because he said that he could be removed anytime as he would be a minority prime minister and so moth-eaten Pakistan is better for him than to become the prime minister of such a country where there is no trust and which is now becoming evident.
“The way the country is being taken in a different way today, I feel no one would have ever thought of it. We would not have dreamt of such a thing that they will try to change a secular country in such a way, which I think will be dangerous for them,” the former Union minister said.
When asked about the statement of yoga guru Baba Ramdev that if illegal immigrants were allowed to stay on, they would make 10 more Kashmir-like problems for the country, Abdullah said India has a big heart and people can live in the country with ease and dignity.
“India’s has a big heart. If you see, Mughals came and lived here, Alexander came and the force he had with him lived here. Whoever wants, can live here with ease and dignity. This is our tradition. Ramdev is no god, neither does he own India,” he said.
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