Jammu, April 29:
The Jammu and Kashmir BJP Monday pitched for permanent closure of cross-LoC trade, currently suspended on the direction of the Centre, saying it has developed into a channel to foment trouble and sponsor illegal and unwanted activities.
The saffron party also launched a scathing attack on National Conference and PDP leadership for their stand on Article 370 and Article 35A which, according to the BJP, have lost their relevance and time has come for their “removal for good”.
Article 370 of the Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state, while Article 35A empowers the state assembly to define ‘permanent residents’ for bestowing special rights and privileges on them.
“The cross-LoC trade has brought countless miseries to the state as it has developed into a channel to foment trouble and do illegal and unwanted activity. Its suspension should pave the way for its permanent closure,” BJP state spokesperson Brig (Retd) Anil Gupta told reporters here.
On April 18, India indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade at two points along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir following reports that it was being “misused” by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.
The LoC trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district of the Jammu region and Salamabad in the Baramulla district of north Kashmir was intended as a confidence-building measure for the population living in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
BJP state spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo and another state spokesperson Balbir Ram Rattan also addressed the press conference.
“The BJP would like to reiterate that Article 370 and Article 35A have lost their relevance, if they had any, and time has come for their removal for good. They have been a basis to mislead the people about the constitutional and political status of the state and thus create a situation where the younger generations would be prone to political blackmailing and exploitation,” Chrungoo said.
He said these provisions cannot be allowed to provide an alibi for “separation, hatred, misuse of power, gender bias and infringement of fundamental rights” guaranteed by the Constitution.
“The Article 370 and Article 35A need to go on the first available opportunity once the government has the necessary legislative numbers,” he said.
On PDP president and former CM Mehbooba Mufti’s recent remark that Article 370 is the basis of the state’s relationship with the country and that if the prime minister thinks Kashmir is in loss because of it, then they should leave Kashmir, Chrungoo said her comments are not only unwarranted and unwanted but are also bereft of normal political sagacity.
“The statement is aimed at raising passions and emotions and causing harm to the established constitutional and political practices in the state,” he said, adding the PDP chief is not interested in mitigating the sufferings of the masses in the state.
He said it needs to be made clear that since the Kashmir province is a part of the state, the province has no exclusive right to represent the state as a whole.
“It has been established well that the last seven decades of political blackmailing, that had the tacit support of the Congress party, was engineered by a couple of political families of the valley. They did it to suit their own political ends and used their parties and their position to this effect,” he claimed.
The BJP leader said the statements of PDP and NC leaders expose their “ignorance of history, political arrangements and ground realities” in Kashmir valley.
“There is need of an open debate and dialogue on all issues concerning the future of our society, state and younger generations. We invite all those who feel suffocated in these political parties, due to lack of inner democracy, to join open discussion and debate on issues like nationalism, development, national security and on terrorism (as an enemy outside and within),” Gupta said.
Rattan said Jammu and Kashmir is nobody’s fiefdom and the people of Jammu, Ladakh, Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities and also the nationalist people of Kashmir rejected the secessionist ideology and practice.
“They have deep emotional bonding with the rest of India. Our cultural, historical, traditional and practical relationships are more important than the invented so-called narratives of separation and hatred,” he said.