What if 35-A goes?

People of Jammu and Kashmir are ready for another battle for another day and no economic depression in the past three decades could kill their quest for azadi.
What if 35-A goes?

There has been a lot of noise on the political scene of Kashmir regarding the fate of a PIL in Supreme Court of India challenging the validity and enforcement of Article 35 A to Jammu And Kashmir State. State Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was first to raise the revolt and said that there would be no one to "hoist tri-color" in Jammu and Kashmir if Article 35A is tinkered with. Opposition National Conference warned Delhi of more intense agitation than Amarnath Land row if the BJP government along with its ideologue RSS will try to dilute special status of Jammu and Kashmir state. Former Chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah said that Hurriyat has nothing to do with Article 35A. Omar told media that Hurriyat which does not believe in constitution of India has no business to comment on Article 35 A. Such arrogant utterances from Omar will bring more pressure on main stream political parties of J&K state to defend the special status of the state in the present circumstances.

Let us go hypothetical. If Supreme Court decides to do away with Article 35A, allowing all non- state subjects to purchase properties in Jammu And Kashmir State what will it mean to different political hues?  Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq rightly said in statement mainstream parties of J&K were duty bound to protect Article 370, article 35 A and all shades of special status. He said that they were touting this idea of accommodation with Indian union as an achievement to protect and safeguard culture and distinct identity of Jammu and Kashmir within union.

If RSS and BJP finally succeed in taking the legal course to integrate J&K sate by trying to portray that well it is the Supreme Court that has done it and they will have to respect the court verdict. It will be the last nail in the coffin of mainstream politics in Jammu and Kashmir as their relevance along with fig leaf credibility will be over. They will be robbed of halo of power and dignity and would be finally as naked as some petty agents of some country among their people. It is the compulsion of politics and survival that prompted Farooq's  bête-norie Mehbooba who called on him at his Gupkar residence to convey to Abdullahs that it will be a "collective funeral" of all of them if Article 35-A goes.  If it happens, it would be a turning point in the political discourse of Kashmir and for the first time all the three regions have a reason to come together and start a joint agitation against New Delhi. Because people of Jammu and Ladakh are more touchy about the invasion of non- state subjects to grab their properties. Separatists would be vindicated and there would be a focus back on partition of 1947 and on "right-wrong "decision taken by late Sheikh Abdullah to connect the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. Sometimes late Abdullah was proved right in the historical perspective but since RSS and BJP have started the final onslaught on the distinct identity of Kashmir, late Abdullah's decision is being proved wrong. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti after meeting Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi painted the context. She told media that people of Jammu and Kashmir despite being residents of Muslim majority state decided to accede to India, rejecting two nation theory and Pakistan. She said that this was the time that government of India accommodates idea of Jammu and Kashmir within the ideal of India without bruising their identity.

If government of India does not file a strong counter affidavit in Supreme Court to defend article 35 A as already former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah  has said that the defense is weak in the court, an RSS affiliated NGO will succeed to do something which will ensure BJP and Modi in power till eternity. It will give push to Modi as an iron man of India who could integrate Kashmir with the rest of the country with such an ease. They have already started a campaign that by implementing GST in Jammu And Kashmir State they have achieved the first step of fiscal integration of the state with the rest of the country.

BJP government at the Centre is testing the patience and resilience of people of Kashmir by racking up issues of abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. There is already another PIL in Supreme Court in which the petitioner wants the J&K constitution to be declared as void and illegal. The writ petition is also moving on and recently Supreme Court has sought response from the center on this plea against Article 370.

People of Jammu and Kashmir are ready for another battle for another day and no economic depression in the past three decades could kill their quest for azadi. This sentiment has manifested itself in many ways and means. The recent general strike response regarding the scrapping the of Article 35 A is  an eye opener for all those policy makers at New Delhi who believe that by taking such short cuts they can finally declare in the parliament that Kashmir problem is over. Had it been so simple first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal  Nehru with the support of most popular leader of Jammu and Kashmir late Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah could have achieved it much earlier.          

(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre-MERC, University of Kashmir)

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