Time to say goodbye to Article 370: J&K BJP spokesperson

Article 35 A has come under focus after two Kashmiri women approached the Supreme Court and challenged it.

Jammu: Blaming Article 370 of the Constitution for the creation of a "separatist psyche", the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP said today that the time has come for the people of the state to say goodbye to it and also to Article 35 A.

Both these articles, instead of being beneficial to the people of the state, have done great damage and hampered progress and development, said J&K BJP spokesperson Prof Virender Gupta.

"The time has come when the people of Jammu and Kashmir should say goodbye to Article 370 and ask the Government of India to revoke Article 35 A," he said.

The prevailing situation in the Valley shows that Article 370 has created a "separatist psyche" and acts as a breeding ground for "separatist emotion", Gupta said.

Article 370 grants special status to J&K, while Article 35 A, added to the Indian Constitution through a presidential order, empowers the J&K legislature to define the state's "permanent residents" and their special rights and privileges.

Article 35 A has come under focus after two Kashmiri women approached the Supreme Court and challenged it. They contended that it had disenfranchised their children.

The BJP is a part of the ruling alliance in J&K where it has partnered the PDP. However, the saffron party's views on Article 370 and Article 35 A appear at variance with its ally.

At a recent event in Delhi, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that if Article 35 A was tinkered with, there will be no one in Kashmir to uphold the national flag.

Opposition National Conference (NC) has also spoken against any attempt to tamper with these provisions.

However, according to the BJP spokesperson, Article 370 is responsible for keeping the settled issue of J&K alive and encourages the separatists and external forces to interfere in the internal matters of India.

He said that Article 370 was increasing the alienation of the people of the Valley and was taking them away from the national mainstream.

"The Kashmiri leadership for its own vested political interests has always indulged in a competitive game to exploit the people in the name of Article 370," Gupta alleged.

The BJP spokesperson said that in spite of large scale funding from the Government of India, Jammu and Kashmir has not been able to develop its own sustainable economy and has remained underdeveloped and backward in many fields.

Industrialists and business houses from outside hesitate to open ventures in the state and as a result, it is facing the crisis of unemployment and migration of skilled and talented youth to the rest of the country, he added.

"Academicians and experts from the rest of the country are discouraged because of the Article to contribute in the educational growth of the state", he claimed.

Gupta alleged that Article 370 is also responsible for widening the mistrust and alienation between the people of the Valley and those of Jammu and Ladakh regions.

He called upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir to also look into the utility of Article 35 A claiming it was "most discriminatory" and differentiated between men and women with regard to their rights as a citizen of the state.

Significantly, on Tuesday, in a surprise development, J&K Chief Minister Mufti had gone to meet NC president Farooq Abdullah.

Sources in the NC had after the meeting said that the legal challenge mounted on the validity of Article 35A of the Constitution was the main subject of discussion between the two leaders.