The top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday held a meeting in Delhi with its Jammu and Kashmir core group against the backdrop of panic in the valley over the abrogation of Article 35A of the Constitution.
Union home minister Amit Shah held a meeting on Jammu and Kashmir with senior BJP leaders, including party’s working president J.P. Nadda, general secretary B.L. Santosh, and state party president and deputy chief minister Ravinder Rana.
The meeting comes in the wake of the Jammu and Kashmir state leadership of the BJP speaking in one voice against the abrogation of Article 35A, rumours of which gripped the valley after the Union home ministry deployed 100 additional companies of paramilitary personnel in the region. The move sparked panic particularly because of the BJP’s pledge to scrap Articles 370 and 35A, which was a major poll plank.
Article 370 of the Constitution promises autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A gives special privileges to “permanent residents" of the state while defining the term “permanent residents".
National Conference (NC) chief and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah said on Tuesday that he would call for an all-party meeting later this week in view of apprehensions over abrogation of Article 35A.
“Article 35A and Article 370 should not be removed. It forms our foundation. There is no need to remove it. We are Hindustani but they (Article 35A and Article 370) are important for us," he said.
The NC chief’s comments followed the request of Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister and the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to convene an all-party meeting on the matter.
“In light of recent developments that have caused a sense of panic among people in Jammu and Kashmir, I’ve requested Dr Farooq Abdullah to convene an all party meeting. The need of the hour is to come together and forge a united response. We the people of Kashmir need to stand up as one," Mehbooba Mufti had said on Monday.
The deployment of additional security forces has raised a “fair bit of concern and speculation that maybe the government has plans to further intensify crackdown", said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the Awami Action Committee, one of the two key factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
The abrogation of Article 35A would affect both the PDP and the NC, and would impact the demography of the valley, he said.