Parties pledge to struggle unitedly for restoration of J&K statehood, special status

Published : August 25, 2020 11:48 IST

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah addressing a press conference after holding a meeting with party leaders, including those who were detained post-August 5, 2019, and released recently, at his residence in Srinagar on August 20. Photo: PTI

In a massive show of a unified struggle against New Delhi’s unilateral actions in Jammu and Kashmir, mainstream politicians cutting across party lines have reiterated their commitment to strive for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood and special status, under the framework of last year’s Gupkar Declaration.

In a statement ratified on August 22 by the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the People’s Conference, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Congress and the Awami National Conference, the mainstream leaders said they were committed to honouring the Gupkar Declaration, a document they had signed on August 4, 2019, a day ahead of the Centre’s unilateral abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A that accorded Jammu and Kashmir a semi-autonomous status.

On August 5, 2019, the State of Jammu and Kashmir was also bifurcated into two Union territories, one comprising Jammu and Kashmir and the other the Ladakh region. “We want to assure the people that all our political activities will be subservient to the sacred goal of reverting to the status of J&K as it existed on 4th August 2019,” the leaders of these parties jointly pledged.

The Gupkar Declaration had said that “any modification, abrogation of Articles 35A, 370, unconstitutional delimitation or trifurcation of the State would be an aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”. However, after their release Farooq Aabdullah and Omar Abdullah were reluctant to pioneer a struggle in the light of the Gupkar Declaration. The National Conference explained at the time that the prevailing situation owing to the pandemic and the continued detention of consequential leaders across party lines did not allow the charting of any action plan.

The joint statement said that it was difficult for the signatories to maintain basic level of communication with one another, given the “prohibitive and punitive” curbs imposed by the government. The statement stated that “the limited confabulations held within the constraints imposed have resulted in this unanimous resolution that the unfortunate events of 5th August 2019 have unrecognisably changed the relationship between J&K and New Delhi. In a spitefully shortsighted and unconstitutional move, Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated and the State was bifurcated and relegated to the status of two Union Territories and its Constitution tried to be made unenforceable.”

Hinting that the Centre was aiming to realign the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir, it further said: “The measures attempt to redefine who we are. These changes were accompanied by repressive measures meant to silence people and coerce them into submission, and continue unabated.”

Soon after the joint statement was issued, leaders took to social networking sites to pledge support to it. Iltija Mufti, daughter of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who continues to be detained under the Public Safety Act, tweeted from her mother’s Twitter handle: “Ms Mufti appreciates the statesmanship shown by Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab in forging a collective response to Delhi's onslaught on J&K's special status. It’s time we forego and stand together.”

Yousuf Tarigami, four-time MLA of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from Kulgam, retweeted a tweet from his party’s official handle, which said: “Joint resolution of 6 political parties stating they will strive for reverting to pre-Aug 5, 2019, position, a significant decision. It is the responsibilities of the political parties to get the people out of this hopeless situation and it is a welcome step.”

Sajad Lone, chief of Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference, tweeted: “A very satisfying day. We firmly believe that a collective mechanism is the only way out. It is no longer about power. It is about a struggle to get back what rightfully belongs to us. Thanks Dr Farooq sahib Mehbooba Ji and Tarigami sahib.”

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