Omar’s Remarks On Special Status Of State Spark Off Debate

Omar’s Remarks On Special Status Of State Spark Off Debate

27 June 2013
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: The recent statements of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in support of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution has triggered a fresh debate on the special status which the Article grants to Jammu and Kashmir. The civil society has already initiated an academic debate all over the country on the topic. Omar yesterday attacked the BJP for raising bogey of the revocation of Article 370. “We the people of Jammu and Kashmir categorically tell them (the BJP) that the revocation of Article 370 is not possible at all and any attempt by anyone on this sensitive issue would be on our dead bodies,” Omar said in an address at the inaugural ceremony of the Banihal-Qazigund rail link yesterday. Omar’s political rival, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had on Monday termed Article 370 as the Article of faith and warned that the PDP would not allow its further erosion. The Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre, a group of writers, thinkers and intellectuals, has started a campaign by holding workshops and seminars all over the country over the utility of Article 370. Instead of demanding the revocation of the Article, the Study Centre has been trying to highlight how the special status has been abused by the ruling elites of Kashmir to sabotage sincere attempts at strengthening democratic institutions in Jammu and Kashmir and to deny constitutional rights to the weaker sections. The Centre in collaboration with Mewar University has announced a national-level essay writing contest on the topic of Article 370. Law students from all over the country are eligible to participate in the contest. “There should be a debate all over the country on whether this article has given any benefit to the people of Jammu and Kashmir or the special status has been misused by the ruling elites of the state only to accomplish their nefarious designs,” said Goutam Mengi of the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre. Mengi said the main aim of holding the essay writing contest was to initiate a debate on the Article. The BJP, on the other hand, today dared Omar Abdullah to hold an open debate on Article 370. “The National Conference leadership, particularly Omar Abdullah, must stop arousing the emotions of Kashmiris in the name of Article 370 and misleading them. He should rather give an account of the benefits, if any at all, his governance has bestowed upon the common man. The BJP challenges him for an open debate on the utility of the special status for the common man and the state,” said Jugal Kishore Sharma, state BJP president.