No change on Art 370, says BJP-ally Mehbooba Mufti

RSTV Bureau
PTI File Photo

PTI File Photo

A day after Jammu and Kashmir government told the Supreme Court that special right guaranteed to the natives of the state, as per the constitutional scheme, cannot be challenged, the chief of the ruling PDP asserted there can be no interference with Article 370 in the state. Mehbooba Mufti, daughter of J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who is running a state government in coalition with the BJP backed the special status of the state while speaking at an event in New Delhi.

“The state joined secular India when Hindu states were joining India and Muslim states were with Pakistan. We took a decision against the tide so we need to be treated specially,” Ms Mufti said at the ‘HT Leadership Summit’ on Saturday.

“And we are happy that we took the decision as we got special status. Now what has been given cannot be taken back in bits and pieces as that amounts to stealing and dishonesty,” she added referring to questions about revoking of Article 370.

At the same time, the PDP president sought to downplay growing concern of ‘radicalisation’ of youths in Kashmir and the threat of youth getting swayed by the terror-syndicate Islamic State (IS).

“It sounds very ridiculous. Some guys who had displayed ISIS flags were arrested. Imagine none of them knew what it was all about. It was only to catch the attention…it’s easy to prop up a Pakistani flag which has now become old fashioned,” Mehbooba Mufti said.

“Kashmiriyat, the Sufism culture of Kashmir is answer to everything. Kashmiris don’t take diktats from anyone like women were asked to wear jeans, wear hijab and don’t send your girls to school. The people in the Valley got their children educated in rest of the country,” she said strongly adding that the idea of Jammu and Kashmir being part of the country has to go beyond the ownership of land.

“People in India need to invest in Jammu and Kashmir’s peace,” Ms Mufti said.

On being quizzed over the alliance of her party with the BJP, she said the decision was taken by her father who wanted to respect the mandate of people of all three regions — Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir– and moreover, he wanted to carry forward the peace initiatives started by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which were carried forward by his successor Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Meanwhile, on Friday, in its reply to a PIL in Supreme Court, the J&K state government underlined that as per the 1954-Presidenial Order, Article 35A of the Constitution guarantees special rights to permanent residents of the state and that legal position has been recognised and accepted.

The state government was replying to a PIL, filed by a Delhi based NGO, , seeking to declare Article 35A as “ultra vires” to the Constitution on the ground that it violates fundamental rights of citizens hailing from other states. The petitioners had further claimed that the provision was “supposed to be a temporary” one.

In its response, settled by jurist Fali S Nariman, the government of Jammu and Kashmir stated that the said Constitutional Order of 1954 “came into force on May 14, 1954 and the instant petition, challenging its vires, has been preferred after a delay of more than 60 years… The instant petition seeks to upset settled law, accepted and, complied with by all”.

“Article 370 of the Constitution as enacted has expressly made provision, ‘notwithstanding anything in this Constitution’ (opening words of Article 370 of the Constitution),” the J&K government stated further in its reply, adding that President of the Union has the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an Order, as was done in the instant case.

(With inputs from the PTI)