Mainstream, separatist parties on same page: Omar

MAJID NABI. Dated: 9/14/2018 12:04:58 PM

SRINAGAR, Sep 13: Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president, Omar Abdullah today claimed that mainstream and separatist groups have been on ‘same line’ as far as Article 35(A) is concerned.
Addressing media after all parties meet at his residence, Omar said the impact of shutdown called by separatists against challenging Article 35(A) in Supreme Court recently was witnessed far and wide in the valley.
The former CM said protection of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is the prime responsibility of everyone be it a separatist, mainstream leader or a common man.
He said that even elected BJP leaders from Jammu publicly raised their voice in support of Article 35(A).
“Not a single shop was open during two days shutdown against PIL challenging Article 35 (A) in Kashmir recently. Shops that never closed down for twenty-five years remained shut. Protection of Article 35(A) is collective responsibility of every concerned citizen be it a separatist or a mainstream leader,” said Omar.
The NC leader also demanded that the hearing of Article 35(A) case which is scheduled on January 9, 2019 shall be deferred until a new government comes in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said it would be the ‘prerogative’ of next elected government to defend the constitutional Act in Supreme Court in the proper way.
“It would be the responsibility of next government to defend the act and till than no progress should be made in this direction. We want Assembly elections to be conducted in the state so that the defence of Article 35(A) is ensured,”
Omar also said that all leaders who were invited by NC President, Dr Farooq Abdullah to discuss certain issues including security and political situation of the state unanimously agreed to change of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) as defense counsel on grounds that the latter had allegedly expressed his own views in court.
He said that instead services of those lawyers who were hired by the previous government to defend constitutional Act in Supreme Court shall be availed.
“All the leaders unanimously agreed to changing Assistant Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, as defense counsel as he never spoke what he was supposed to. He ignored the state’s brief and went on with his own views that created serious apprehensions among us all,” Omar added.
On being asked as to why his party did not boycot election in Kargil and Leh, Omar replied polls in these two regions were not linked with Article 35(A) when they began, nor later. “Had the centre linked Leh and Kargil elections with the issue we would have announced boycott,” he added.
He said that it was the centre which pleaded that case should be deferred in view of forthcoming elections in the state.
Reiterating his party stand on election boycott, he said NC will not contest any election unless the centre clears its position on Article 35 (A).
Replying to another question about Governor’s recent statement that elections will be conducted, he said “whether the government chooses to go ahead with election or not it is government’s choice; the fact of the matter is that two major political parties of the state decided not to contest elections”
He said NC has a footprint in all the regions of the state while PDP has its own importance. “If you think that despite two major political parties election boycott you can go ahead with elections we have no objections”
“We did not ask people to boycott elections but announced boycott on party line. We haven’t been on boycott campaign,” he added.



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