The petition filed by one unknown NGO "we the citizens" challenging the validity of Article 35-A of Indian constitution, has created furor among the permanent subjects of J&K state. The plea of NGO (petitioner) asking for the revocation of Article 35-A, has provided an opportunity to pull the lose ends of our diverse society together and succeed in bringing all sections of people of J&K, irrespective of caste, creed color, religion and with different regional affinities and political ideology, on same wave length. This is for the first time after Moui Muqadas movement of 1963 that the people of J&K particularly of valley have shown oneness in supporting their point of view loud and clear. The total bandh on 30th and 31st August and the widespread peaceful protests across the state in favor of Article 35-A has further vindicated their point of view. The people of valley, Chinab and Pir Panchal ranges have expressed solidarity for upholding and protecting Article 35-A and at the same time have also shown deep concern if the article is trinkled with. The Kashmir society has to play a big brother's role to defend the Article 35-A in letter and spirit and for maintaining it, in its original form and shape. Since the date of hearing of this petition has been deferred to 19th of January 2019, so we have to wait till then. But it is shocking to learn that ASG's statement to Apex court regarding "gender discrimination" as per the media reports has raised many eye brows among the awakened members of the civil society. If we have to believe the N.C president who has denounced the state government's defense on Article 35-A, in view of ASG's statement in the Apex court regarding the aspect of "gender discrimination" in Article 35-A and virtual sideling of state Advocate Ceneral, then it smells of some under hand conspiracy working behind this move. But there seems to be no gender discrimination, as now the female state subject of J&K is authorized to retain the PRC even after her marriage with a non state subject of J&K. The law was adopted during Mufti Sahab's first stint as C.M. There are so many instances in both regions of J&K state where the female is married to outside person but possesses properties in the state even after her marriage.
In the interest of the people and state, even the government grants land on lease and rent, to the non state subject persons and the institutions. So there are no hard and fast rules for the out side individuals and institutions to establish their business for the promotion of economy of the state. Lalit and Taj Vivanta hotels are few glaring examples. There are so many such like instances in Jammu region also. There are reports that some non JK residents have obtained state subject certificates in Jammu with the connivance of some revenue authorities through fraudulent ways which need to be probed. Article 35-A which was added to the constitution through the presidential order of 1954 in exercise of the powers conferred by clause 1 of Article 370, empowers the state legislature to define permanent resident of the state. The permanent residency law was defined by the then constituent Assembly and accordingly added to the constitution of J&K in 1956. Any effort to trinkle with the Article 35-A can further infringe the sanctity of constitution of J&K state and this act will tantamount to breach of trust deposed by SMA in constitution of India through Article 370 which serves as the bridge between the people of Kashmir and the country.
No double standards;—the mainstream leaders have to be now more clear so far as the protection of Article 35-A is concerned as the history of Kashmir can never forgive them for the blunders they have already committed in past to weaken the structure of Article 370 from time to time. The youth and the members of civil society today are educated and well awakened, who know how to defend their honor, dignity and their rights in peaceful democratic way. The era of blind faith and sloganeering like "alla kareaga wangan Karega—-Bab karega- Bab karega" is almost over. Our youth have made mark in every field of human activity like science, IT, medical, engineering and sports and are not lagging behind to any member of other sections of society. The state comprises of various regions and the people, with different geographical landscape and is therefore repository of multiple facets of culture and heritage. Article 35-A does not only describe our permanent residency law but is an article of faith which helps us in protecting and maintaining our ethos, heritage and cultural identity, not only of the people of valley but of Dogras of Jammu and rare tribals of Ladakh and therefore very sacred and dare to the people of all the three regions of the state. We hope that the opinion of saner elements in the BJP will prevail and uphold the peoples trust already damaged by Congress party during Nehru and Indira ji's time.
It is therefore obligatory on the part of present government of Jammu & Kashmir to take all measures and leave no stone unturned till this Article of faith is defended in its original form and shape. They need to depute a person who can serve the interests of the people of J&K state sincerely and come to the expectations of government as well as to people to their desired satisfaction.
(Abdul Rashid Khan is the former IGP Kashmir)