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National Conference Decides to Boycott J&K Panchayat Elections, Cites Article 35A

Farooq Abdullah announced on Wednesday that the National Conference will refrain from participating in the panchayat elections until the issue of Article 35A is settled for good.

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Updated:September 5, 2018, 4:11 PM IST
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National Conference Decides to Boycott J&K Panchayat Elections, Cites Article 35A
Farooq Abdullah addressing a press conference on Wednesday.
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New Delhi: The National Conference has decided to boycott the panchayat election in Jammu and Kashmir unless the Centre takes effective steps for protection of Article 35-A of the Constitution.

“The core group (of NC) unanimously decided that the National Conference will not participate in these elections unless and until the government of India and the state government clarify their positions in this regard and take effective steps for protection of Article 35-A in and outside the courts," National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said on Wednesday.

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 denies property rights to women who marry those from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

He said the decision of the state administration to hold urban local body polls and panchayat elections was taken in a “hurried manner" and without taking into consideration the prevailing situation "created by the powers that be by unnecessarily fiddling with Article 35-A”.

The state government last week announced the schedule for holding elections to local bodies and panchayats in the state. While the urban local body polls are slated for the first week of October, the Panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in November-December this year.

Abdullah said the core group had a detailed discussion about prevailing situation in the state with particular reference to Article 35-A of the Constitution. “It was felt that any tinkering with Article 35-A would prove disastrous not only for our state but for the entire country”.

He said the stands of the central government and the present dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir before the Supreme Court goes “clearly against the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state.”

“They conveniently ignore that this provision was incorporated in the Constitution after thorough discussion between the then state government and the Government of India and was made part of the Delhi Agreement 1952,” Abdullah said.

“It was also approved by the state's constituent assembly as envisaged under Article 370 of the Constitution," he said.

The National Conference chief said the core group resolved that J&K National Conference would fight tooth and nail all "sinister" attempts aimed at interfering with this constitutional guarantee. “Such attempts, if allowed, shall strike at the very basis of the relationship between the state and the Union,” he said

Last week, the Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution to January next year. The Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government referred to the panchayat polls in the state and seek adjournment of hearing on petitions against Article 35A.​

Details awaited.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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