Protect Article 35A or we will boycott J-K local elections: NC party chief Farooq Abdullah tells Centre

September 5, 2018

The National Conference said on Wednesday it will boycott the upcoming panchayat and local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir unless the Centre and state government clear their stand on Article 35 A, which provides special rights to the restive state’s citizens.

Announcing the decision, NC president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said his party will fight tooth and nail all the sinister attempts aimed at interfering with the constitutional guarantee in any manner what so ever.

“Unless and until the government of India and state government clear their position in the regard and take effective steps for the protection of Article 35A in and outside court, the NC will not participate in the elections,’’ Abdullah said after the meeting of the party’s core group.

He was flanked by senior party leaders Ali Mohammad Sager and Abdul Rahim Rather.

Abdullah said that the core group of the party had a detailed discussion on the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir with a particular reference to Article 35A and that any tinkering with it will prove disastrous not only for the state but for the entire country.

“The role of central government and present dispensation in the state before the Supreme court is against the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state,” he said.

Farooq Abdullah’s son Omar Abdullah also said that the central government should make its stand on the article of the Constitution that restricts property ownership and government jobs to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is now for the central government to clarify where it stands with regard to Art 35-A. It’s not enough to use Panchayat & Municipal elections simply to delay proceedings in court,” he tweeted.

Omar was referring to the Supreme Court’s decision last week to defer hearing petitions against Article 35A to January after the Centre and the state government argued that it could lead to a law and order situation in the state ahead of the upcoming panchayat and local body elections.

Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, said that any debate on Article 35A at this juncture would have an impact on the law and order situation in the valley where elections to over 4,500 posts of sarpanch and to 1,145 wards are scheduled. If these elections do not take place, then Rs 4,335 crore financial grant would lapse, he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had announced the schedule for its municipal and panchayat polls last week, set to start on October 1 up to the first week on November. The decision was taken by the state administrative council (SAC), which met under the chairmanship of governor Satya Pal Malik on Friday. Preparations for the elections have been on ever since the state came under governor’s rule on June 20.

The council had decided that the elections to municipal bodies will be conducted in four phases, with polling dates between October 1 and October 5. The municipal and panchayat polls are being held in the state after over a decade. The state government has deputed more than 15,000 additional paramilitary forces to conduct the polls amid a spike in violence.

Militants and separatist Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising three leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have also called for a boycott of the local bodies’ polls in Jammu and Kashmir, saying people’s participation in the elections are propagated “as a verdict in India’s favour”.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s militant commander Riyaz Naikoo has also threatened that people who will get the election forms for panchayat and local body polls should also get shrouds.

There have been protests in the state by separatists against any change in Article 35A and Article 370 with the state’s main regional mainstream parties such as the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party also hitting the streets and warning of a deterioration of the situation in the state if any changes are made to either provision. Senior Congress leaders in the state have also warned of a massive agitation if Article 35A is altered in any way.

Source : Hindustan Times 

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