Ahead of the crucial hearing on Article 35A scheduled for February 25, authorities in Kashmir have launched a massive crackdown on the separatist camp in Jammu and Kashmir. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has ordered deployment of 100 companies of paramilitary forces in the Kashmir Valley on an urgent basis. In a letter dated February 22, the government ordered deployment of forces with ‘immediate effect’ in addition to the number of forces already stationed in the state. The letter was addressed to the Jammu and Kashmir home secretary, the state Chief Secretary and the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
“We have to urgently deploy CAPFs in Jammu & Kashmir. It is requested to provide 100 coys of CAPFs (CRPF – 45, BSF-35, SSB-10 & ITBP 10) to Govt of J&K with immediate effect and till further orders,” read a Ministry of Home Affairs letter to the state government, copies of which have been also sent to IG (Ops) to CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB.
“IG (ops), CRPF is requested to ensure immediate movement of forces in coordination with IG (ops) of all forces,” it further reads.
Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir Police from his residence in Srinagar. He was shifted to the Kothibagh police station. Chief of Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI), a politico-religious organisation and dozens of other separatist leaders were also arrested.
What is Article 35A?
- Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.
- Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Article 35A gives special rights to the Jammu and Kashmir’s permanent residents. It prohibits people from outside the state from buying or owning immovable property, settles permanently, or avail themselves of state-sponsored schemes.
- Article 370 of the Indian Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A empowers the state legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
- In 2014, a Delhi based NGO, We The Citizens, had filed a writ petition seeking the striking down of Article 35A.