Separatists have called for a two-day strike in Jammu and Kashmir as protests against the August 6 Supreme Court hearing on pleas challenging Article 35A in the state continues. The complete shutdown in the Valley has thrown normal life out of gear and was called to support the Article, which grants special powers to the state legislature and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
State BJP unit open to debate on Article 35A
Protests continue against the hearing of petitions challenging the provision in the top court, even as the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP on Saturday said leaders of the party are ready to debate over Article 35A of the Constitution.
"The BJP is open to a debate with anyone or any political party on whether or not Article 35A is in the interest of the people of the state. We are extending an open invitation," the state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi told reporters.
The political climate of the state has heated up over Article 35A over the last few days, he said, adding that some political parties, especially those active in Kashmir, have taken an ‘anti-national and anti-people’ stand on the issue.
Sethi targeted the National Conference (NC) and the Congress party and said residents in the Valley are being told that it is for their betterment and are being misled by being informed that it is for the interest of the state.
"The continuation of Article 35A will not have any benefit for the state. The central government has pumped crores of rupees into the state over the last 70 years, but the development has not been as it should have been," he said.
The article did not allow outside investment and has acted as an obstacle in the development of the state, Sethi said.
"Investors do not come here to set up Infrastructure. The youth are not getting the jobs," he added, alleging that some politicians want to maintain the position for vote bank.
"My appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir is to understand the real purpose of Article 35A. It is like an iron chain which is keeping us from moving forward. If the state subject laws change, it will benefit the state," Sethi said.
New laws could be made to pave way for industrial growth and to prevent outsiders from settling in residential areas if the article is repealed, he said.
"Jammu and Kashmir is not for foreigners but West Pakistan refugees are Indians and can live anywhere in the country, but not Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals," he said.
Amarnath Yatra suspended over shutdown in Valley
Following the two-day protest shutdown by separatists in the Kashmir Valley, the authorities on Sunday decided to temporarily suspend the ongoing Amarnath Yatra from Jammu to the cave shrine.
No pilgrim was allowed to move from the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas, the police said.
Special check-posts have been set up in Udhampur and Ramban to ensure that the movement of pilgrims does not take place on the Jammu-Srinagar highway which passes through these two districts.
Pilgrims camped at the Pahalgam and Baltal base camps in the Valley will however, continue with the Yatra, confirmed the officials.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)