Mehbooba claims Modi’s support on not fiddling with Article 370

| | New Delhi

Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given “100 per cent” assurance that he would back the PDP-BJP Government's Agenda of Alliance, which says that the status of Article 370 can't be “fiddled with”.  She also claimed Modi's support to Article 35A. However, she refused to give a direct reply on whether the Prime Minister had given an assurance on safeguarding the constitutional status quo for the state.

Mehbooba met the Prime Minister amid reports that she was seeking help against attempts to alter constitutional provisions that give Jammu and Kashmir its special status. She also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday evening.

“Our Agenda of Alliance was based on a foundation that the status of Article 370 can't be altered or fiddled with... so none of us (PDP-BJP) can go against that,” Mehbooba said in response to repeated questions on whether she had got an assurance from Modi on supporting the State Government on Articles 35A and 370. Pressed further on the issue, she said, “The Prime Minister has given 100 per cent assurance for the Agenda of Alliance.”

Evading a volley of questions on the specifics, she said that Modi had given a “very positive” response to the issues raised in the meeting. The meeting comes in the backdrop of the debate on Article 35A of the Constitution that grants special status to the state and is being challenged in the Supreme Court.

“When the wounds of last year are getting healed, discussions on Article 35A leave a negative impact on the people. After all J&K is an important part of this nation... When someone is trying to come out of troubled waters, we are pushing it back (by such debates on Article 35A).”

She said she had informed the Prime Minister that people feel their identity is at stake and the Centre should give a message on maintaining the state's special status.

Mehbooba said she had told the PM about the difficult situation in Jammu and Kashmir and also that the situation was improving gradually. “The idea of India has to accommodate the idea of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.

The State BJP, the alliance partner in the State Government, had upped the ante with its spokesperson Virendra Gupta saying on Thursday that the time had come to bid farewell to Articles 370 and 35A as they created a “separatist psyche”.

Article 370 grants special autonomous status to the state. The controversy erupted in 2014 after an NGO 'We the Citizens' filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking that Article 35A be struck down. While the State Government contested the petition, saying the president had the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an order, the Centre, recently, expressed its reservations. 



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