No plan to extend Article 371 in Union territory, says J&K govt

Jammu and Kashmir, Article 371, Union territories, Ladakh, Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, Article 370, Constitution
The National Conference said that nobody was accredited to comment on the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, especially when its two leaders, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were still under detention. File photo: PTI

Even as the Jammu and Kashmir government issued an advisory to Kashmiri students studying outside to use social media cautiously, political parties in the state say that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was obstructing the political process.

Ghulam Ahmad Mir, president, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee, speaking to The Federal from New Delhi argued that it was the BJP government alone which revoked Articles 370 and 35A and then put forward the idea of extending Article 371 to Jammu and Kashmir to protect domicile rights.

“As far as Kashmir is concerned, it is all of the BJP, by the BJP and for the BJP at the moment. Except for the BJP, no other political party is allowed to do politics. It is one-way traffic,” says Mir.

He said that no political group from Kashmir has made any demand for extension of Article 371 because what the BJP did in early August was not only “unconstitutional and undemocratic”, but also open to legal challenge.

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Also read: Centre will not touch Article 371, Amit Shah assures northeast

Hasnain Masoodi, MP, senior National Conference leader, denied reports that New Delhi was in touch with his party over Article 371. “I am not privy to any such development. The NC stand is pretty clear. Not only restore Article 370 but strengthen Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy further,” Masoodi said. He accused the BJP of doublespeak over the issue of granting special status to the state.

“Where is Amit Shah’s slogan of one country and one constitution when he reaches out to Northeast states with concessions on the new citizenship law to safeguard their culture, language, and identity? Article 370 precisely guaranteed the same for Jammu and Kashmir,” Masoodi said.

Iltija Mufti, daughter of former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti, refused to comment on the controversy saying, “I am not a politician.” After her mother’s detention, Iltija is using her mother’s Twitter handle and usually makes comments on controversial political matters.

The National Conference said that nobody was accredited to comment on the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, especially when its two leaders, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were still under detention. All such issues, the NC said, “will be deliberated upon by the Working Committee once the leadership is released.”

“Till then nobody is accredited to dwell upon policy matters,” the party’s provincial president Devender Singh Rana said while addressing a press conference at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan in Jammu. He was flanked by senior party leaders.

Also read: Centre may target Northeast next, fears Mizoram after Article 370 repeal

J&K government rebuts media reports

The J&K government while rebutting media reports about the possibility of ‘extending Article 371 to Jammu and Kashmir’ clarified that there was no such proposal in the offing. In a statement issued on late Sunday, a government spokesperson said that no such proposal was “under consideration”.

A government spokesperson said that all media reports circulating in this regard were “baseless and without any substance”, adding that “The same has been refuted by Ministry of Home Affairs as well.”

Ministry of Home Affairs said, “Certain media reports stating that the Ministry of Home Affairs has moved a proposal to implement Article 371 in Jammu and Kashmir are incorrect and baseless”.

Few media and television reports claimed that the BJP-led government in Centre has sent a proposal to the J&K’s law department regarding the possibility of extension of Article 371, with an aim to protect domicile, property and land rights of Kashmiris.

‘PSA on entire mainstream ideology’

Meanwhile, Rana while emphasising the need for a political dialogue called the extension of the Public Safety Act (PSA) on Farooq Abdullah as “PSA on the entire mainstream political ideology of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The party demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all leaders and urged Modi to “initiate meaningful dialogue and genuine democratic process in order to fill the (existing) political vacuum.”

Rana said, “PSA against Farooq Abdullah is sad and unfortunate, especially in view of his immense contribution towards nation building and sustaining peace, amity, harmony, democracy, progress, and development of Jammu and Kashmir.”

PCC president Mir said Farooq Abdullah was someone who “sacrificed his life for the idea of India, but today he is considered a threat to the nation. This is unfortunate.”

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