The business community in Kashmir today said it was incumbent upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to safeguard Article 35-A of the Constitution if he was honest in his "deeds and words" to embrace the people of the valley.
Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is currently facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
The community said Modi should either get the petitions challenging Article 35-A in the top court withdrawn by the petitioners or to defend the provision by pleading for the dismissal of the case.
"It is an irony that Indian PM, who only few days ago swore of Kashmiriyat from the ramparts of Red Fort, is attempting a judicial onslaught on the same Kashmiriyat with the intention to change its demography for larger insidious political agenda," Abdul Majeed Zargar, spokesman of the joint forum of 27 trade, business and civil society organisations, told reporters here.
He said, "If PM Modi is honest in his deeds and words to embrace people of Kashmir, then it becomes incumbent upon him either to get these petitions withdrawn by the RSS-backed organisation or to defend his own constitutional provision in the Supreme Court."
Modi, during his Independence Day speech on August 15, had said the Centre will move forward in Jammu and Kashmir by adopting an approach of embracing all and not by 'goli and gaali' (bullet and abuse).
He said his government will move ahead in the state by following the path of 'Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhuriyat' as shown by late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Zargar said Modi should also make a statement in Parliament "reaffirming this solemn commitment to the people of Kashmir".
The forum also appealed to Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra to rise to the occasion and engage the best legal minds to argue against the petitions "both on law and facts and get them dismissed".
Zargar said the people of Kashmir would "shed their last drop of blood" to save their demographic character, identity and other hereditary rights.
"Let it be noted that the consequences of any adverse action on these rights will be too dreadful for anyone to imagine. To begin with, we endorse the two-day strike call given by the JRL (Joint Resistance Leadership) in this regard and appeal to all our affiliated bodies and sub-units to observe the protest programme given by the JRL in letter and spirit," he said.
Separatists, under the banner of the JRL, yesterday had called for strike on August 26 and 27 to protest against any tinkering with Article 35-A and also threatened to launch a mass agitation if the Supreme Court gives a verdict against it.
The Supreme Court had on August 6 adjourned hearing on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, saying its three-judge bench has been hearing the case and will consider whether it has to be referred to a larger bench.
The apex court has listed the matter for hearing in the week commencing August 27.