The union home minister Rajnath Singh made it clear on Monday that the government will not go against the sentiments of the Kashmiri people over the constitutional provisions under the articles 35A and 370 that guarantee special rights to the people of the state.
“The government did not initiate anything on this or go to court. I assure the government would never take any step which will hurt the sentiments of people of Jammu and Kashmir,’’ he stated. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voiced his support and urged the centre to file a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court on the same.
On questions asked about the individuals and organizations, that have raised the objection on the provisions, being connected to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Singh maintained that “his assurances have come as a home minister of India’’.
Well-known leader of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah negotiated the states’ political relationship with New Delhi in 1949 that resulted in the insertion of the Article 370 in the Constitution while Delhi Agreement between Abdullah and Nehru in 1952 gave way to the addition of Article 35A. Article 35A of the Indian Constitution empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the Jammu and Kashmir. Through article 370 state of J&K acquires special status in the Indian Union. It was through the presidential order that the Article 35A was added to the Constitution in 1954 and it grants special rights and privileges to the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir. It also enables the state’s legislature to frame laws without facing a challenge based on the violation of the Right to Equality of people from other Indian states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.
The Supreme Court had demanded a reply within the three weeks on a writ petition that was filed by an NGO seeking the removal of the Article 35A of the Constitution. It stated that the state government takes undue advantage of the Article 35A and Article 370 to practice discrimination against nonresidents who are kept away from buying properties, getting government jobs or participating in the local elections.
The hearing is likely to take place in the apex court after Diwali.
The home minister spoke about the improved security situation in Kashmir Valley and urged tourists from all over the world to visit the region. “I assure the tourists from India and rest of the world that Kashmiri’s are ready to welcome them,’’ he said.
On a four-day visit to the state, Singh met about 55 delegations of civil society and of political parties representatives. He indicated that he was “willing to talk to any stakeholders’’. He said that he has come with an open mind and that he is ready to talk to anyone to resolve problems in Kashmir.