Several trade, transport and fruit grower bodies held separate protest demonstrations on Thursday across the summer capital against efforts for abrogation of Article35.
The demonstrations were held in response to a call by representatives of 27 Kashmir-based trade organisations which jointly formed an umbrella body recently and announced a week-long protest programme until August 7 to “protect” the constitutional provision from any “tinkering’ which they fear will dilute the special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
Traders representing Shaher-e-Khaas Traders and Manufacturers Co-ordination Committee marched from Khanqah-e- Maula to Rajouri Kadal to protest against ‘attack on special status of the state’.
Holding placards, traders raised slogans against the alleged “conspiracy for the removal of Article 35A” that grants special privileges to the permanent residents of J&K and bars others from purchasing land in the state.
Earlier, addressing reporters at a press conference at Bohri Kadal, chairman, Shahr-e-Khaas Traders and Manufacturers Co-ordination Committee, Nazir Ahmad Shah said it was the duty of every Kashmiri to safeguard Article 35A.
Downtown has had a special past and a unique role in Kashmir’s history. We believe that its only Kashmiris who can solve Kashmir issue and we are committed to fight against any move to scuttle the Article 35 A and thus threaten the very existence of the browbeaten nation of Kashmir,” Shah said.
President of the Downtown traders committee, Bashir Ahmad Kenu said the top priority was to safeguard the interests of Kashmiris faced with “renewed onslaught with rise of right wing in India”.
“We also appeal to all to get united so that we successfully ward off any attack against our very existence,” Kenu said.
The protesting traders said annulment of Article 35A will be a jolt for people of J&K and in coming time and the state will “lose its distinct character” if the special status is tampered with.
Another peaceful protest for defending Article 35A was held at Fruit Marketing Complex, Parimpora in the city outskirts.
Members of the fruit dealers and growers association who took part in the protest unanimously decided that in response to the strike call given by Joint Resistance Leadership, local fruit and vegetable mandis across Valley will remain closed on August 5 and 6.
Addressing media during the sit-in protest, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, president of New Kashmir Fruit Association said the trading community “will not allow anybody to fiddle with Article 35A.”
“We urge Government of India that the case for abrogation of Article 35A filed in the Supreme Court of India be dismissed forthwith. The original state subjects will in no case accept any effort if made at any level for change of demography of the state,” Basheer said, demanding a counter case be filed against the petitioners.
Another protest demonstration was held by Kashmir-based transporters at General Bus Stand, Parimpora. Representatives of Western Bus Service, KMD Bus Service, Mini-Bus Federation, Maxi-cab association and members of auto drivers association were also participated.
Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf, general secretary of All Kashmir Transporters Welfare Association said “Business community, be it traders, hoteliers or transporters are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the special status of our state.”
“Government of India, backed by right wing elements is using all dirty tactics to take away over special status but we won’t let it happen.” Yusuf said.
“Earlier all such petitions would get dismissed before their admission by the Supreme Court only because of the prompt and appropriate defense by successive governments at New Delhi. This time a situation has come up when Government of India has bizarrely declined to defend their own provision of the constitution as it has not filed any counter to the PIL,” Yusuf said, adding it meant complicity of GoI in the attempt of removing or tinkering with the Article 35A.
In a statement issued Thursday, Beopar Mandal Maharaj Gunj said any move aimed at “divesting the people of Jammu and Kashmir from their constitutional rights and privileges, making changes in its demography and tarnishing the cultural identity of Kashmiri people will be resisted tooth and nail”.