As Supreme Court is set to hear the petitions challenging validity of Article 35-A on Monday, a Kashmiri Pandit group and civil society members on Thursday staged protest against any assault and tinkering with Article 35-A.
The Pandit group led by prominent Kashmiri Pandit and trade union leader Sampat Prakash assembled at Pratap Park, here and staged a sit-in protest against any tinkering with Article 35-A, which grants special privileges to residents of J&K.
Carrying placards and banners, the group members were chanting slogans against any tinkering or dilution of Article 35-A.
JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik also joined the protest organised by the Pandit group.
The civil society members including Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) chairperson Hameeda Nayeem, Shakeel Qalander and Abdul Majeed Zargar and KCCI chairman Javid Ahmad Tenga also joined the protest and expressed their concern over attempts being made to dilute Article 35-A.
“For me, this law (Article 35-A) is an outcome of the struggle of my ancestors like Prof Jia Lal Koul, Shanker Lal Koul, Jia Lal Jalali and others who in 1880 when Pratap Singh was ruling this land started agitation for securing rights of state subjects of the State,” Prakash said.
Warned against abrogation of Article 35-A, he said, “It will snowball into major crisis. Kashmir will witness the bloodbath if anything was done with this law.”
Prakash said if Article 35-A was fiddled with, it would automatically affect the Article 370, which grants special status to J&K within Indian constitution.
“I have faith in Supreme Court and its decisions. I believe that it will not do any injustice with people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said and urged the apex court to dismiss all petitions challenging validity of Article 35-A.
He said a Kashmiri, it is his moral responsibility to raise his voice against the attempts to tinker with Article 35-A.
Prakash also supported the two-day strike called by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) on August-5-6 against any tinkering with Article 35-A.
He said as a trade union leader, he was detained in 1968 after he filed writ petition over Article 35-A when a large bench comprising 11 judges was constituted.
“How can Supreme Court (SC) reopen the case after 48 years even as large bench of the top court had already unanimously decided to protect the Article 35-A,” he added.
He said this is the fight of Kashmir nationalism. “We will fight. Every house will fight.”
Another Kashmiri Pandit protestor, Prof Vishen said, “Our ancestors have fought for the Article 370. We won’t allow any tinkering or dilution of Article 35-A and Article 370”.
“We don’t want to change culture of our land. We don’t want anybody to change the identity of Kashmir. We will not allow any non-local to settle or buy any movable or immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Later in the day, the business community took out a protest march in downtown Srinagar against any attempts to tinker with Article 35-A.
The protesters dispersed peacefully.