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Didn’t ask people to boycott civic polls: Omar

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Sep 13: Senior National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah on Thursday said his party did not ask people to boycott the panchayat and municipal elections.

“National Conference (NC) has decided to boycott the polls, but we did not ask people not to participate in the elections. We did not launch any poll-boycott campaign neither are we on the same page with the separatists,”Omar told a press conference here.
He said if the government was thinking of conducting elections without the participation of two major parties, they can go ahead.
“The NC has footprints in all the regions of the state, and the PDP has its own importance. Yet, the people can participate in the elections,” he said.
Asked about the elections held in Kargil, he said, “Those polls were not connected to the Article 35A. It is the centre that opened the chapter and connected elections with this legislation.”
The political parties want deferment of the Article 35A hearing and removal of Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta from the case till a new government gets elected in Jammu and Kashmir.
Omar said the NC President, Farooq Abdullah, had invited leaders of political parties for a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the political and security situation of the state.
“It was unanimously agreed in the all-party meeting that hearing of Article 35A has to be deferred till elections are held and new government is in place in the state,”Omar said.
He said Jammu and Kashmir “is under the centre’s rule and New Delhi is yet to clear the stand over Article 35A”.
“The governor rule is directly under central government’s control. We don’t know the position of the centre government over Article 35A. There are apprehensions regarding defence of the case in Supreme Court. So, the case shall not proceed until J&K has an elected government,Omar, former chief minister of the state, said.
“We have also decided that we will write to government that we want elections to take place first so that there is elected government in the valley and then this case can be defended,” he said.
He said everybody was on the same page to defend the legislation.
“Even BJP MLAs have given statements in support of Article 35A,” he said.
The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing of the case till the second week of January in view of the civic polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir, Ladakh and parts of Jammu had observed shutdown several times for the last two months against a possible tampering with the legislation.
The National Conference leader said that politicians who participated in the meeting have called for removal of Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta from Article 35A case for “going beyond his brief”.
He said Mehta was sent to defend the state and the Article 35A case, as he was representing state government and not the central government.
“All the leaders in unison decided they don’t trust him. We all want that he should be taken off from the case when this comes up in January for hearing and previous advocate should be appointed to defend the state,” the National Conference leader said.
During the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, Mehta had said that Article 35A and certain aspects needed to be debated upon and claimed, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A)”.
However, the PDP did not participate in the meeting. “We knew what the agenda of the meeting was, so we did not participate in it,” PDP Chief Spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said.
The NC and PDP have announced that they will boycott the upcoming panchayat and municipal elections in the state.
Both the rival parties have made it clear that they will not contest the election unless the Centre clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
Omar meets Guv
Omar Thursday met Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan here on Thursday.
Omar apprised the Governor about his views regarding the prevailing law and order, education and development scenario in the State and about certain development issues relating to his Constituency.
He also apprised Governor about his Party’s views on the upcoming elections to Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats.
The duo discussed the importance of empowering people by strengthening local self-governing institutions at grass root level and measures required to be taken for the restoration of peace and normalcy and creating an environment suitable for the holistic development of the youth.

 
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Art 35-A row: SC to take ‘in-chamber’ decision on listing of plea

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jan 22: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Advocate Bimal Roy Jad mentioned the matter before the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna.
He sought urgent hearing of the petition, filed by ‘We The Citizens’, saying the court had earlier ordered listing of the matter in the second week of January.
In August, the apex court adjourned hearing on a batch of petitions challenging Article 35 A till January this year, after taking note of submissions of the Centre and the state government that there was a law and order problem in the state.
Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.
The apex court had on August 31 deferred till January the hearing on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35 A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir, after the Centre and the state said that polls to local bodies polls there would go on till December.
Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that certain aspects of Article 35A needed to be debated upon and said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A).”
On August 6, the apex court had said that a three-judge bench would decide whether the pleas challenging Article 35A should be referred to a five-judge constitution bench for examining the larger issue of alleged violation of the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
Several petitions including by political parties like the National Conference and the CPI-M, have also moved the Supreme Court in support of Article 35-A that empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.

 

‘JK women marrying non-natives don’t lose residency rights’

 

Srinagar, Jan 22: Women hailing from Jammu and Kashmir who choose to marry men from outside the state do not lose their residency and inheritance rights under Article 35-A of the Constitution, a top legal expert said on Tuesday.
“This issue was settled by a full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the case titled State and others vs Dr Susheela Sawhney and others in October 2002 by striking down the proviso of the state subject (permanent residency) law according to which women marrying outsiders would lose their permanent resident status,” former advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir government Ishaq Qadri said.
The bench, in the landmark judgment on 7 October 2002, held by a majority view that the daughter of a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose her status as a permanent resident upon her marriage to a person from outside the state.
Qadri’s remarks come after the Supreme Court said earlier on Tuesday it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the then PDP-Congress coalition government challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court but later withdrew its petition.
“Then law minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh brought Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Resident Status (Disqualification) Bill 2004 in the state legislative assembly and it was passed by the lower house in March 2004,” the former advocate general said.
“Since it was a Constitutional amendment bill, it needed two-thirds majority to be passed. The National Conference, which was in the opposition, supported it, ensuring the passage of the bill in the assembly,” Qadri said.
Had the bill passed the scrutiny of the legislative council — the upper house of the state legislature — and got the governor’s assent, the women marrying men outside the state would have lost their status as permanent residents, he added.
However, there was an outcry against the bill, mainly in the Jammu region.
It was taken up for discussion in the legislative council but the then chairman Abdul Rashid Dar adjourned the House sine die without taking a vote on it, Qadri said.
“As A result, the bill lapsed and it was never reintroduced,” he said, adding that the high court ruling on the permanent residency rights of women marrying outside the state stands as on date.
Article 35-A was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the then Cabinet headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the previous hearing of the petition filed by NGO ‘We The Citizens’, a lawyer had given an illustration and said if a native woman of the state married an outsider, she loses several rights, including property rights, in the state, but if a man marries a Pakistani woman, he and his spouse get all rights.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Jammu and Kashmir government in the apex court, had agreed to the contention that Article 35-A and certain aspects needed to be debated upon.
He said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A).”

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Avalanche hits Ramban, 12-year-old girl among 2 killed

Heavy snowfall closes Sgr-Jmu highway; weather to improve from today

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Two persons were killed and many others went missing after an avalanche hit them while they were heading home at Kawana Trigam village in Ramban district on Tuesday.
Official sources said that snow avalanche, which occurred at around 3 pm near Kawana at Trigam, swept away four persons.
Bodies of two persons were recovered and they have been identified as Rafiq (25) son of Ghulam Qadir and Sumerna (12) daughter of Mukhtar Ahmed.
The missing persons have been identified as Fatha Begum (30), son of Surkh Ahmed and Taja Begum (32) wife of Margob. All residents of Trigam, 50kms from Ramban, were moving towards their home when the avalanche struck them.
Deputy Commissioner Ramban has sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh in favour of each of the Next of kin of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the local meteorological department predicted improvement in the weather conditions from Wednesday.
Deputy Director MeT, Mukhtar Ahmad said there will be improvement in the weather conditions from Wednesday.
Ahmad further added that there is no further prediction of rain or snowfall across the Valley till January 29 but on Jan 25, the weather would remain cloudy throughout the day as per the present forecast.
The intermittent rainfall continued to lash plains since Sunday evening while as the higher reaches and other districts of the Valley experienced fresh snowfall.
The snowfall at various places especially Srinagar-Jammu highway led to the continuous closure of the only road connecting Valley with rest of the States.
The highway was closed for second straight day today in view of the fresh snowfall that triggered slippery conditions of the roads.
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers are stranded on the highway at Banihal or other districts in Jammu due to the closure of roads who have demanded authorities to open the highway for vehicular movement at an earliest.
However, officials said that men and machinery has already been deployed to clear the road but the fresh snowfall on Tuesday disrupted the road clearance work.
“The road clearance work is on and the road will be thrown open after the roads are cleared,” they added. (With inputs from GNS)

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Observe Jan 26 as ‘Black Day’: Joint Hurriyat to people

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Srinagar, Jan 22: The Joint Hurriyat Leadership on Tuesday urged people to observe January 26 as a ‘black day’ to register their strong protest against New Delhi for not resolving Kashmir dispute.
In a statement, the Joint Hurriyat comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said that for past 71 years people of J&K have been demanding the right to self-determination that Indian leadership promised to them.
“However, till this day not only has that commitment not been fulfilled but those that remind them of it are rewarded with bullets and pellets are incarcerated and gagged,” the statement said.
They said that lakhs of armed forces are deployed to suppress the aspirations of people and draconian laws like AFSPA and PSA are invoked to ensure people’s sentiments do not get out of hand.
“Hundreds of people are lodged and languishing in jails in JK and outside whose only crime is their demand for restoration of basic human and political rights the fundamental right to decide their destiny,” the Joint Hurriyat said.

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