Members of the minority Kashmiri Pandit and Sikh communities Thursday joined the protests against attempts to annul Article 35A as hearing in Supreme Court for a case about the special constitutional provision comes close.
Representatives of Pandits and Sikhs came out in solidarity with the Kashmir Muslim majority and staged a protest demonstration in Pratap Park against attempts to abrogate Article 35A, which prohibits anyone other than the permanent residents of the state to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir.
The minority community protestors were joined by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, members of business community including apex trade bodies such as Kashmir chamber of commerce and industries, Kashmir traders and manufacturers federation to demonstrate against attempts to weaken the state's special status.
"As a patriot of my motherland, it is my duty and moral responsibility to raise my voice against the threat of being robbed of our pride which is our special status," said Sampat Prakash a member of Pandit community and a well known trade union leader.
Prakash said irrespective of religion, all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir are one and will oppose any conspiracy being hatched in New Delhi to dilute its special status.
"We will fight tooth and nail attempts to abrogate article 35A, come what may. For us like fellow Muslim Kashmiris and Dogra brothers, state subject is a matter of life and death and fighting for it is as sacred as anything," he said.
Prakash said the Pandit community has always performed a vital role in defending the special status of the state, whenever a petition against its validity was filed in Supreme Court.
"History is witness that the law was initiated in 1884 when Kashmir became a part of British Empire. This law is the outcome of struggle of my ancestors like Jia Lal Kilam, Professor Jia Lal Koul, Jia Lal Jalali and others who agitated during Pratap Singh's regime to protect state's special status," Prakash said, claiming he previously has defended the article in 1969 in a case titled Sampat Prakash v/s Jammu and Kashmir.
Professor Vishan said the petition seeking to abrogate the special status is aimed to "dilute the Kashmiri civilization."
"They are working in a systematic manner to take away our special status. It is better to be prepared and fight them head on. After this Article, they will target Article 370 later," Prof Vishan said.
"So we have to be strong and remain united to defeat their ill-designs. Kashmiri ethos and civilization is 5000 years old and known worldwide and we will never allow the evil forces to target our identity."
Chairman, JKLF, Muhammad Yasin Malik also joined the protest organised by the minority community. However, he didn't speak to media stating that it is better to listen to "our minority brethren".
On the occasion, leaders representing Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) and members of civil society also demanded the "anti-Kashmir" petition in the Supreme Court be dismissed.
President, Javed Ahmad Tenga said the sit-in protest by minority community was a clear cut message to all those who want to weaken our special status that Jammu and Kashmir is one in fighting against elements who want to dilute it.
"It is an eye-opener for those who claim that minorities in Kashmir are not in support to resent the petition challenging special status,"Tenga said.
Some students and government employees also joined the protest sit-in and raised slogans against New Delhi for "backing the RSS-backed NGO to abrogate Article 35A."