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Kashmir Crown

Struggle For identity

People of Jammu & Kashmir are virtually on war with India over the legal challenge thrown to article 35 A in the Supreme Court of the country to the extent that two largest regional political parties of the state National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have announced poll boycott of the proposed panchayat and municipal elections to deny India its identity and political space in the state for seeking practical and workable assurance from the incumbent Narendra Modi led BJP Government at the centre on Article 35-A. The announcement of poll boycott of panchayat and municipal elections has not only put Modi government in dock in Delhi but has also brought into question the credibility and the purpose of local body elections in the state. The fearful atmosphere triggered by the poll boycott call of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Shah Geenani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yaseen Malik during bye election to Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency last year could be more intense this time as the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has already threatened an indefinite strike across Kashmir if the attempts to tinker with article 35 A are not immediately stop. Though National Conference Vice President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said that Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) waging a war for Azadi has no moral and political right to raise voice on tinkering with a law which is part of Indian constitution but Omar was silenced with just one counter argument from Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) which said “ The Article 35 A is a hereditary state subject law enforced during Dogra rule in the year 1927 to address the apprehension of any change in the demography of the state”. Interestingly the former Chief Justice of India from Jammu & Kashmir late Justice A S Anand has in one of his book said that the article 35 A has been invoked at the insistence to Pakistan after it raised apprehensions on the demography of the state till resolution of Kashmir issue. Though Jammu & Kashmir government has been consistently committing itself to defend article 35 A in the supreme court but the argument of Tushar Mehta one of the main counsels of the state government on article 35 A during August 27 hearing in the supreme court in which he was reported to have termed the article 35 A a gender discrimination case was condemended by both National Conference and PDP and even explanations over this controversial argument of Mehta were sought by all concerned . Interestingly Mehta also holding the position of Additional Solicitor General of the central government was last year also at the centre of a major controversy when the central government allowed him to plead a case on behalf of BJP President Amit Shah. May be political parties like National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and civil society groups accepted as interveners in the article 35 A case by the Supreme Court may demand disengagement of Mehta as JK Government before the next date of hearing in January next year . The participation in the elections by all standards of understandability is as huge a concern for political identity of Mehbooba Mufti led Peoples’ Democratic Party as it is for the Farooq Abdullah led National Conference which look a lead over PDP in announcing the call for boycott of the municipal and panchayat elections. 
Though Jammu & Kashmir government has been consistently committing itself to defend article 35 A in the supreme court but the argument of Tushar Mehta one of the main counsels of the state government on article 35 A during August 27 hearing in the supreme court in which he was reported to have termed the article 35 A a gender discrimination case was condemned by both National Conference and PDP and even explanations over this controversial argument of Mehta were sought by all concerned.Since the people had already shown the mirror to National Conference President Farooq Abdullah by shouting pro-freedom slogans during Eid prayers on the eve of Eid-Ul-Adha at Dargah Hazratbal Srinagar days after he shouted slogans “ Bharat Mata Ki Jai” at a BJP conclave called by BJP in Delhi to tribute late Prime Minister Attal Bihari Vajpayee the National Conference leaders and legislators during a meeting of the party’s core group refused to be part of any election exercise till the central government gives a practical assurance over article 35 A in the supreme court of the country. So for Modi government at the centre has not filed a counter affidavit to defend the article 35 A in the supreme court of the country and it did not bother to do so even when Mehbooba Mufti sought it as Chief Minister during the hey days of her party’s alliance with the BJP e controlled at commanded by BJP Chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the centre. Till the time National Conference and PDP shows their unwillingness to participate in the elections over the demand for a counter affidavit to defend article 35 A by the central government both National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) would find their shrinked space expanding in Kashmir .In the presence of a poll boycott by National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) the challenges for the new governor Satya Pal Malik have become almost unsurmountable. An attempt by Governor Satya Pal Malik to reach out to Mehbooba Mufti to seek an assurance of her party in the proposed panchayat elections for reducing the challenges of peoples’ participation in the civic poll has also drawn a flak as PDP top brass did not find it easy to participation in the elections in a fearful political and security atmosphere in Kashmir particularly the four South Kashmir districts. 
So for Modi government at the centre has not filed a counter affidavit to defend the article 35 A in the supreme court of the country and it did not bother to do so even when Mehbooba Mufti sought it as Chief Minister during the hey days of her party’s alliance with the BJP e controlled at commanded by BJP Chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the centre. Till the time National Conference and PDP shows their unwillingness to participate in the elections over the demand for a counter affidavit to defend article 35 A by the central government both National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) would find their shrinked space expanding in Kashmir .In the presence of a poll boycott by National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) the challenges for the new governor Satya Pal Malik have become almost unsurmountable.Perhaps Governor Satya Pal Malik is not having any idea about the intensity of anger that prevails and is brewing up against government across Kashmir. Though holding panchayat and municipal elections in an atmosphere where MLAs also find it difficult to move out in the wake of continuing attacks on their workers in their constituencies is against the administrative and political wisdom of any dispensation in any part of the world but governor Satya Pal Malik is tending to take huge risks despite knowing it that he is here for a new experience in one of the most dangerous conflict zones of the world with a new chief secretary not connected to Kashmir affairs in his earlier career and a new Director General Political who lacks the qualification of holding the challenging positions his predecessors had held with distinction in Kashmir. 
Before talking about the offer of security to poll contestants before and after the municipal and panchayat elections the Governor Satya Pal Malik should calculate the figures to update himself about the manpower required for the security of the poll contestants before and after the panchayat and municipal elections. No doubt the erstwhile Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress coalition government provided security to poll contestants when the panchayat elections were held last time but government withdrew the security to the defeated candidates due to the manpower constraints it experienced in continuing the deployment of policemen for the security of defeated candidates. The time when people have identified themselves with the ongoing legal battle for protection article 35 A the government identifying itself with idea of panchayat and municipal elections may loose its own identity in restoring the faith of the people in its working. Governor Satya Pal Malik not identifying himself to the political identity of Jammu & Kashmir tends to undo the actions of the previous Mehbooba led PDP-BJP Government and his predecessor N N Vohar and more so on the conduct of panchayat and municipal elections in the state and lately he has promised security to all intending poll contestants before and after the panchayat and municipal elections. Before talking about the offer of security to poll contestants before and after the municipal and panchayat elections the Governor Satya Pal Malik should calculate the figures to update himself about the manpower required for the security of the poll contestants before and after the panchayat and municipal elections. No doubt the erstwhile Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress coalition government provided security to poll contestants when the panchayat elections were held last time but government withdrew the security to the defeated candidates due to the manpower constraints it experienced in continuing the deployment of policemen for the security of defeated candidates. The time when people have identified themselves with the ongoing legal battle for protection article 35 A the government identifying itself with idea of panchayat and municipal elections may loose its own identity in restoring the faith of the people in its working.

The Kashmir Walla

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