Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has expressed her strong reservation to the Centre over any possible tinkering with Article 35(A) of the Constitution, warning that the development may lead to a situation where nobody in the Kashmir valley will hold the Tricolour. The J&K CM also told the Centre that the recent crackdown on separatists in Kashmir for their alleged hawala links has compounded the resentment and protests on the ground.

Article 35(A) empowers the state’s legislature to define who is a permanent resident of J&K, and give them privileges.

She reminded the Centre that it has taken sacrifices on part of the workers of mainstream political parties such as her People’s Democratic Party and Omar Abdullah led National Conference “to keep the Indian flag afloat in the state”.

CM Mehbooba was quoted by many news agencies as saying, “I won’t hesitate to make it clear that nobody will even cover a corpse with National Flag in Kashmir if Article 35(A) is scrapped”. It is in place to mention that Article 35(A) is being challenged in the Supreme Court by an NGO, We the Citizens, who have pleaded before the SC that this Article was never presented before Parliament and had been executed on the orders of the President of India.

Commenting on NIA crackdown on the separatists, she said that the Centre will have to talk to all stakeholders including the separatists and Pakistan for a meaningful dialogue aimed at rescuing the state from its current unrest. CM Mehbooba said that in the past also the Central agencies levelled many allegations against Hurriyat leaders, but that had not taken Kashmir on the path of reconciliation.

The National Investigation Agency recently arrested seven separatist leaders including the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani for their alleged role in terror funding. Recently, the NIA slapped a notice on the elder son of Geelani, Dr Nayeem Geelani, for questioning. CM Mehbooba said that the unrest in Kashmir has its roots in the unresolved political issues. She had recently said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the mandate and the will to resolve the Kashmir issue.

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