Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given “100% assurance” to the PDP-BJP government’s Agenda of Alliance which says there will be “no fiddling” with Article 370.
According to PTI news report, Mehbooba met the prime minister amid reports that she was seeking help against attempts to alter constitutional provisions that give special status to the state. Emerging from the 15-minute meeting, Mehbooba said the basis of the Agenda of Alliance between the PDP and the BJP is that there should be no “fiddling” with the status quo on Article 370.
“That is the basis of the agenda and no one can go against it. The response of the prime minister is positive. The prime minister gave 100% assurance to the Agenda of Alliance,” she told reporters. The meeting comes in the backdrop of the debate on Article 35A of the Constitution that grants special status to the state and is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
The chief minister said she had told the prime minister about the difficult situation in Jammu and Kashmir and also that the situation was improving gradually. “People of Jammu and Kashmir feel that their identity will be in danger. A message should go that there is no such thing,” she said.
The chief minister said Jammu and Kashmir had been facing difficult circumstances. At the time of accession, Jammu and Kashmir, being a Muslim majority state, took a different decision to join “our country, India”.
“Jammu and Kashmir has the peculiar diversity where everything is different. It is a Muslim majority state. Hindus also live, Sikhs and Buddhists also live. Seeing that, there is a special position of Jammu and Kashmir. It was a question that the idea of India has to accommodate with the idea of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
Last year, the chief minister said, the situation turned bad again and now wounds were getting healed. “The discussions on Article 35A, in these circumstances, will adversely affect the process.” The chief minister said such discussions (on Article 35A) should not happen.
At the end of the day, Jammu and Kashmir is an importatant part of the country. According to her, Jammu and Kashmir was the crown of the country. It was a Muslim majority state which had rejected the two nation theory and joined this country with the view that aspirations, identity would always remain alive. “And that identity should always remain alive,” she said.
The state BJP, an alliance partner in the state government, had upped the ante with its spokesperson Virendra Gupta saying yesterday that time had come to bid farewell to Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution as they created a “separatist psyche”.
The controversy erupted in 2014 after an NGO ‘We the Citizens’ filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking that Article 35A be struck down. Article 35A, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges, was added to the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954.
Article 370 grants special autonomous status to the state. While the state government contested the petition, saying the president had the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an order, the Centre, recently, expressed its reservations. Officials in the home ministry had said on Thursday that its law officers would be presenting legal aspects related to Article 35A only and would refrain from joining the case.