Article 370: Kashmir Pandit group questions credentials of petitioner NC leader Mohd Akbar Lone in SC

A ‘Kashmiri Pandit’ group has questioned in the Supreme Court the credentials of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Mohammad Akbar Lone, one of the petitioners challenging the abrogation of Article 370, claiming he was a supporter of secessionist forces.

An intervention application in the apex court has been filed by ‘Roots in Kashmir’, which claims to be a group of Kashmiri Pandit youths, seeking to bring some additional documents and facts on record in the matter.

It alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Mohammad Akbar Lone is known as “a supporter of secessionist forces operating in J&K, who support Pakistan.”

“The petitioner No. 1 (Mohd Akbar Lone), was a member of the legislative assembly from 2002 to 2018 and has shouted slogans like ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ on the floor of the J&K Assembly,” the intervention application alleged while referring to several media reports in support of their claim.

“The said fact was widely reported by media houses. Thereafter, he not only admitted shouting the slogan but refused to tender an apology when asked by the journalists. Mr. Lone, also while addressing the media, hesitated to identify himself as an Indian. Similarly in his rallies also he is known for spreading pro-Pakistan sentiments,” it said.

The group of Kashmiri Pandits said that two mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir – National Conference represented by Mohd Akbar Lone and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) represented by its President Mehbooba Mufti- are among those who have challenged the abrogation of the provision which bestowed special status on the erstwhile state.

“Both the referred mainstream parties in J-K have openly supported Article 370 and have vehemently opposed any exercise that merely applies the entire constitution to all the people of J&K,” it said.

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The group said that Lone, representing the National Conference party, has often openly made pro-Pakistan statements and probably that explains his opposition to challenge any move that brings the people of J-J-K on par with the rest of the country.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal is appearing for Lone in the matter.

The hearing would resume on September 4 and the top court has asked the respondents, who are defending the Centre’s August 5, 2019, decision to abrogate Article 370, to conclude their arguments on Monday, itself.

Several petitions challenging the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which split the erstwhile state into two Union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – were referred to a Constitution bench in 2019.

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