Tension growing in Kashmir over citizenship rights law
August 7, 2018
TEHRAN – Tension is growing in Indian-controlled-Kashmir over a law that gives exclusive citizenship rights to people there under special provisions of the Indian constitution.
There is fear that India’s apex court will revoke Article 35-A that empowers Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” and provide them with special rights. The law also prevents non-state subjects from purchasing property and having government jobs in the state.
There have been widespread protests in the region over the past one week after an NGO linked to right-wing Hindu groups filed a petition in Supreme Court arguing that Article 35-A is “highly discriminatory” and therefore liable to be declared as unconstitutional.
Political parties, trade bodies, civil society organisations and people in the disputed region have threatened a massive protest if the law is repealed as they fear it will lead to demographic change in the Muslim-majority state.
Joint Resistance Leadership, an alliance of three separatist leaders – Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammd Yasin Malik – said in a statement that any and every attempt made at changing the demographic nature of the state will be stiffly resisted.
Senior lawyer Zafar Shah will defend Article 35-A on behalf of a group of Kashmiri lawyers in court.