The day after she reached out to arch rival Farooq Abdullah to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is expected to reach Delhi on Thursday to seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support in defending a constitutional provision that bars outsiders from owning property in the state. But a fresh petition filed in the Supreme Court has complained that Article 35A discriminated against women who are stripped of right to own property in the state if they marry someone from outside the state. Men do not lose the right to own property irrespective of who they marry.
The restriction on outsiders from buying property in Jammu and Kashmir was considered the cornerstone of the state’s special status. It is a clause that the BJP – which is in power in alliance with Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party, or PDP – has long demanded should be removed. At a hearing last month, the NDA government’s top law officer KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the centre favoured a larger debate on this contentious article. It was after this hearing that Chief Minister Mufti warned Delhi that no one would be left to shoulder the tricolour in the state if the special status was tampered with.