Srinagar: The BJP's poll plank for abrogating Article 370, that gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir, on Monday brought state political parties together, with the National Conference saying it will pave way for "freedom" from India and the PDP warning them to stop "playing with fire".
Mainstream political parties, the National Conference (NC) and the PDP, who are political arch-rivals, were singing the same tune after the BJP unveiled its manifesto in which the party resolved abrogation of Article 370 and annulment of Article 35A of the Constitution, that allows the state's legislature to define permanent residents.
NC patron Farooq Abdullah, who is the party's candidate from the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, said abrogating Article 370 will pave the way for "freedom" for people.
"They talk of abrogating Article 370. If you do that, the accession will also not stand. I swear by Allah, I think this is the wish of Almighty, we will get freedom from them," he said at an election rally here.
The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat goes to polls on April 18.
The former chief minister said there would not be anyone to hoist the national flag in Kashmir if Article 370 is abrogated. "Let them do it, we will see. I will see who is ready to hoist their flag here. So don't do such things that break our hearts. Try joining the hearts, not breaking them," he warned.
The PDP was also not left behind as its patron Mehbooba Mufti, whose party was an ally of the BJP till June last year, was more vitriolic in her attack of the erstwhile alliance partner. She said the Indian constitution will not be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir if Article 370 was abrogated as promised by the BJP in its election manifesto.
"The state is already on a heap of explosives and we saw a glimpse of it in Pulwama. If the BJP does not stop making such statements and give up such intentions, it will not only burn the state but the entire region.
"So my warning to the BJP is to stop playing with fire. There is explosive in Jammu & Kashmir. If you will light a spark, everything will go up in flames, there will be no Jammu & Kashmir or India left," she added.
Mufti said that if Article 370 is abrogated "you will free the state from country as well. I have said many times that Article 370 links the state with the country. When you break this bridge, India loses its legitimacy over the state. It becomes an occupational force."
Responding to reports that a PIL has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking a ban on PDP and
NC presidents contesting the Lok Sabha elections, Mufti said "Why waste time in court? Wait for the BJP to scrap Article 370. It will automatically debar us from fighting elections since Indian Constitution won't be applicable to the state anymore."
Mufti, who is contesting from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, also quoted a famous couplet of Urdu poet Allama Iqbal which reads, "Na samjho gay tou mit jaouge aye Hindustan walo. Tumhari dastaan tak bhi na hogi dastaano main (O people of Hindustan, if you don't understand, you will perish, and your story will be erased from history)".
She said the BJP has failed on several fronts, be it unemployment, farmer issues or price rise.
"Now they are looking for issues which they can use to garner votes," she added.
Abdullah said that in 1927, special residency laws were brought in by then Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, Hari Singh, as a safeguard for Dogras so that their numbers were not diluted by influx of population from other parts of India.
"Do you know what is Article 35A? It gives you (people of state) the right to this place. Nobody
from outside can buy land here or apply for jobs. This was kept by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 so that the population of Dogras does not fall. It was not as much for us as much for them (Dogras).
What do they want? Will they bring people from outside and settle them here to dilute our numbers," he asked.
National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah hit out at Governor Satya Pal Malik over the manifesto.
"Recently J&K governor claimed there was no threat to Art 370 & 35A and that parties like mine were only using them to drum up fear in the elections. I hope his colleagues in the BJP send him a copy of their manifesto," he tweeted.
BJP's trusted ally, People's Conference led by Sajad Lone, also warned of disaster, saying, "Article 370 and 35A are sacred. The only space for movement in this regard is reversal of the erosions. Any other reckless thought or comment seeking removal is a disaster".
The IAS-turned-politician Shah Faesal said in a tweet that all residents of Kashmir "will switch the time of our watches 15 mins away from IST the moment something happens to Section 35A by BJP".
CPM leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami slammed the Modi government, saying its biggest achievement "has been to push Kashmir into cycles of violence. Any attempt to abrogate articles 370 and 35A will have unimaginable repercussions".
He claimed that the BJP's threat of abrogation of the provisions was a way of hiding from real issues and hoodwinking people.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said there will be no option with the government other than abolishing articles 370 and 35A related to special status to Jammu & Kashmir in the Constitution if there is a demand for a separate prime minister for the terrorism-affected state.