Article 35-A is fundamental to Kashmir and Kashmiris

Our future is at stake. A deluge awaits us. All the gushing streams are swelling it up to dangerous level. While September 14, extensively damaged our structures, crops and business and flooded our homes, it didn’t wash off our existence. But this one is all-inundating, all-devouring. All those symbols that make our state distinctive—politically, culturally, economically, religiously and demographically are going to submerge. From the devastation unfolded, there will be little to retrieve our identity from. And make no mistake, across the Peer Panchal and Chenab, they are all on the same page. Secularists, liberals, civil society, media—all are exuding in pleasure, extending tacit or open support to the forces hell bent to change demography of the State. It seems they all are geared up to gate crash through the last barrier and drown us. The challenge is tough. The hug-politomacy by Rahul, and earlier paying obeisance to the fanatic centres by Congress stalwart and former president Pranab Mukherjee, has shown which way India is drifting. In the frenzy, it looks they are turning rebel against their own ‘ secular, liberal’ credentials.

The people of Kashmir have seen governments in Delhi, in particular Congress, launching a multi-pronged attack on autonomy they, dozens of times, pledged to uphold. The touts in Kashmir—especially Abdullahs and Muftis—offered their backs to achieve their politically motivated objectives. Leave alone plebiscite which Delhi promised, had Congress remained loyal to what was agreed upon between Srinagar and Delhi, perhaps political, may be psychological as well, landscape of Kashmir would have been quite different. Political venality of Congress leadership created huge distrust. It cheated not only people of Kashmir, but outside Kashmir too. BJP’s present dispensation, true to its ideological moorings, is hoarding its intensions loud and clear. Assimilation full and complete. All discussion on Kashmir and its people put in a freezer. They want us drag by our balls.

Kashmir today is at its defining moment. A systematic plan to neutralize their numerical strength is shaping up in all its dangerous manifestations. Aware of it, and its implications, they all have risen to the occasion. And across the party lines, above the ethnic, religious, linguistic and regional spectrum. Save a little minority, people are unifocal and unidirectional. Article 35-A protects them from being bulldozed by people outside the state and bars non-state subjects from acquiring land and share in state government jobs and slew of other privileges. Many a distinction autonomy granted, they know they have been robbed of, thanks to the power-lust politicians from our soil acting as accomplice of. But on one thing they are conscious of and has got encrypted in their viscera is that the Permanent Residentship that Dogra ruler Hari Singh enacted in 1927 and was inserted in Article 35-A through Presidential Order in April 1454 is shield to his immovable property and a protective dyke against outside settlement.
While people in one voice are warning powers that be against any attempt to fiddle with the State Subject law, the young scion of Abdullah dynasty, Omar Abdullah, is craning out to expose his goose bumps. Kashmiris making a common cause on the issue and their disciplined peaceful protest and strong resolve to foil the nefarious designs does not make him comfortable. The response to two-day state-wide strike call give by Hurriyat seems to have unnerved Omar. Knitting his brows on Hurriyat getting support from all sections of society, the NC leader asked on Twitter that those out to defend Section 35-A are ‘tacitly accepting that future of JK lies with the Constitution of India, otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted’. True Art 35A is a provision inserted in Constitution of India but it is directly linked to the disputed status of entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir is still on UN agenda with host of resolutions on right to self determination. Any dilution, not to speak of its revocation, will adversely impact the nature of dispute as ultimately it is the head count that counts. The barrier gone, we will lose the majority.
So Article 35-A is fundamental both to our existence as well as larger question of Kashmir. Why it should not matter those seeking resolution of Kashmir. Transfer of forest land to outsiders triggered 2008 mass movement that forced authorities to scrap the early order. That agitation, like the current one, did not make people accept what Omar aims to hit at. Even having all the visible sports that make it defending the Constitutional provision of India, the present mass mobilization is inspired by the deep sense that Article 35A is protecting Kashmir’s demography, primarily vital to K-dispute in historical perspective .