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Defending Art 35-A: Traders, civil society members begin cycle of protests

Srinagar, Aug 01: Business community and civil society members on Wednesday took to streets against the petitions challenging Article 35 A in the Supreme Court.

Members of trade bodies and civil society groups staged a peaceful march from the Residency Road here, demanding dismissal of the petitions, which are to be heard by the Supreme Court on August 6.

President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Javid Ahmad Tenga, who part of the rally, said the people the state were “ready to sacrifice everything” to defend Article 35-A.

“We will shed the last drop of our blood for its protection. Any attempt to harm it will have disastrous consequences,” Tenga, who was leading the protest alongside other prominent businessmen, said.

Article 35 A empowers the state legislature to define permanent residents of the state.

The protest was jointly organised by KCCI, FCIK, KTMF, JKSECE, Batamaloo Traders Association, KCSDS, All Joint Traders and Transporters Coordination Committee Batamaloo, and other local market associations.

The call for the weeklong programme has come jointly from 27 Kashmir-based trade organisations.

Mubeen Ahmed Shah, a senior member of KCCI, said, “The members from all trade bodies participated in the protest. We have announced a protest programme for several days.”

Carrying placards, the protesters warned of “serious consensus” if the Article 35-A was tempered with.

They described the attempts to abrogate it as “mischievous scheming”.

The representatives from tourism, horticulture, transport and industry said abrogation of Article 35 A could add fuel to the fire in Kashmir.

Joint Hurriyat Leadership has already called for shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 and 6 in protest against the “politically-motivated move”.

Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has asked their cadres to ready for a mass-agitation in case the Article 35A was tampered with.

Mainstream parties, too, have been supporting Article 35 A.

National Conference has said “the powers that be” should realise that abrogation and repeal of Article 35A of the Constitution of India would “reopen the question” of the state’s Accession to the Union of India and “invalidate the constitutional bridge that connects the state to the rest of the country”.

The CPI (M) has filed an intervention application in a writ petition challenging Article 35 A in the Supreme Court.