Omar on Jaitley’s Art 35-A remark: ‘His words make BJP’s intentions clear’
Srinagar, Mar 29: Stating that J&K special position was under threat, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah Friday said the remarks made by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against Article 35-A “made BJP’s intentions clear”. Jaitley, on Thursday, had claimed that Article 35-A, which restricts non-permanent residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir, was “constitutionally vulnerable and also hampering the economic development of the state. “Gun and militancy are responsible for damaging economy in Kashmir not Article 35A or Article 370. Article 35A has protected the state,” Omar said during a presser here. The NC vice president said prior to militancy, Jammu and Kashmir was one of the states with “fastest growing economy”. “Article 35A and 370 was before 1990. There was growth of industries and well-known companies would set up their offices and there was a chain of hotels. But after 1990 everything changed,” he said. Asked who was responsible for growth of militancy in the Valley, he replied, “Our neighbouring country is responsible to some extent. Then the way New Delhi has treated the state and even used Raj Bhawan to change democratic decisions and also people here (sic).” Omar also blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to bring peace to the Valley. “Even a BJP Governor has called for economic boycott of Kashmir. Why was Jaitley sahab silent on that,” Omar asked. He said that National Conference has been repeatedly saying that Jammu and Kashmir’s identify and special position was “under threat” “Our special position is not under threat today but for the last five years since the BJP came to power. We don’t need to provide any evidence as Finance Minister has made BJP’s intentions clear,” he said. Omar was flanked by senior party leaders Nasir Aslam Wani and Aga Ruhullah. He said that JK is not the only state with special position in India under the constitution as places like Himachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep, too enjoy special status. “But the attack is only on the special status of J&K. All regions of the state are equally benefited by it (special status). Article 35A and Article 370 are not only for Muslims,” he said. The National Conference leader said that J&K has acceded to India on the condition that the latter has control only on currency, communication, defence, and foreign affairs. “If New Delhi wants to debate on special status of the state then questions will also raise on the instrument of accession. BJP leadership has to think over it,” he said. Omar said the response related to Article 35A was pending with the Law Department and was not submitted to the Supreme Court. “We have a strong case to defend it,” he said, adding that people should not vote for “proxies” of the BJP. He also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using Pakistan as a “poll-plank” in elections. He also blamed the BJP for not respecting the democratic institutions in the country.