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People of J&K united in favour of Article 35A: Ghulam Nabi Azad

Jammu | Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday voiced support for Article 35A that gives special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The people of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir are united in favour of the continuation of the constitutional provision… Don’t make it an issue of one region or Hindu versus Muslims. All the three regions are united,” Azad told reporters here.

The people are aware that given the situation in Kashmir, nobody from outside is going to settle in the Valley, the former chief minister said, when asked about the voices of concern over attempts to abrogate Article 35A.

The provision, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear soon a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the article.

“The abrogation of the article will bring more harm to Jammu and Ladakh as people are ready to buy the land in the two peaceful regions,” the Congress general secretary said.

On the decision of the Centre to ban the Jaamat-e-Islami (JeI), Azad said action should be taken against any group, belonging to any religion, if it spreads hatred.

“If it (government) has any proof that they (JEI activists) are involved in something wrong, the government is bound to take appropriate action. It will depend on the scrutiny of the material seized from their offices,” the Congress leader said.

The Centre had on Thursday banned the group for five years under the anti-terror law on grounds that it was “in close touch” with militant outfits and is expected to “escalate secessionist movement” in the state.

Azad said his party would abide by the decision of the Election Commission on the timing of the assembly election in the state. “An individual person’s view does not matter. Whatever will be the decision of the commission will be honoured.”

Asked about the recent statements of Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, especially related to Pakistan, Azad quipped: “He (Sidhu) is a sportsperson and sometimes he hits the ball outside the boundary for a six.”

He was speaking on the sidelines of a function to welcome new entrants into the party. Several prominent persons, including former deputy speaker Ghulam Haider Malik, Devinder Singh Bindu and former Air India officer Iqbal Dar, joined the Congress in presence of Azad, state Congress president G A Mir and other leaders.

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