Article 35-A: Kashmiris prefer quiet weddings, feast cancellations

Srinagar: Mohammad Shafi had planned a big celebration for his daughter’s wedding this week.

The invitation cards have been sent, but Shafi says he is now not sure about the celebration.

A resident of Ganderbal district in central Kashmir, Shafi says he is apprehensive about the fate of Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court, and the shutdowns and protests sponsored by separatists in support of the provision.

So his family has decided to cancel invites for the post-wedding feast because of the circumstances.

“We had to cancel the invites as we do not know what is going to happen. The strike last time (on August 5 and 6) was unprecedented, so we did not want to take a chance. Only very close relatives and friends would attend the ceremony which will now be performed in a simple manner,” he says.

Many others in the Kashmir Valley share his anxiety.

For the past a few days, newspapers in the Valley are filled with classified announcements cancelling wedding invitations, suggesting residents have decided to go for a subdued celebration during the post-Eid wedding season.

“It is to intimate to all my nears and dears who have received the invitation cards pertaining to the marriage ceremony of my son slated for August 29, 30, that due to prevailing circumstances, the invitation stands cancelled,” reads one of the advertisements from a resident of HMT area in Srinagar.

“However, nikah ceremony will be observed with utmost simplicity. We regret the inconvenience,” it adds.

However, the Valley has witnessed similar cancellations in the past.

Hundreds of celebratory functions were cancelled in 2010, after violence erupted in Kashmir; in 2014, when devastating floods hit the state, and again in 2016, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani.

Article 35A was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order.

The article accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring immovable properties in the state.

It also denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of pleas seeking quashing of the article.

Political parties, including the National Conference and the CPI(M), have moved the court in support of the article.

The Valley has remained tense and separatist groups have called for a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday in support of the constitutional provision.

They have threatened to launch a mass agitation if the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the case on Friday, gives a verdict against the provision.

Yesterday, 12 people were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces during a spontaneous shutdown. PTI

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