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Restore J&K’s special status: NC finally speaks out

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Welcomes BJP’s “change in stance” and “pitch for peace”

Srinagar: The National Conference (NC) on Friday welcomed the “apparent shift in the BJP’s stand from belligerence to amity and peace”, while demanding restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a joint statement by party president and Member Parliament Farooq Abdullah, his colleagues in the Lok Sabha — Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi — and some senior party leaders, the NC said “the change in the BJP’s stand was discernible from the recent statements of Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari”.

The party leaders also welcomed the statement of Gadkari that “India is not interested in expansion in land either from Pakistan or China” and that India only wanted peace and amity, the statement said.

“The statement also welcomes the bold admission made by the leader of Mr Gadkari’s  stature that while he and his colleagues want to make India strong ‘the strength does not come from expansion’ and that they want ‘peace not violence’ and to work together,” it said.

The party also noted with satisfaction the change from a hostile and aggressive posture that would day in and day out call for armed adventure across the Line of Control (LoC), to a “conciliatory posture” advocated by the Union Defence minister in his Jan Samvad address to party cadres.

However, it said mere statements to create an atmosphere of ‘peace, love and amity’ are of no meaning unless the Government of India respects the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Referring to the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution – which gave special status to the erstwhile state — the party leaders underscored the need to restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and “the constitutional guarantees extended from time to time under binding covenants, unconstitutionally, arbitrarily and unilaterally taken away on 5th August 2019”.

The signatories to the NC statement also expressed deep anguish over skirmishes along the LoC and the LAC and the consequent loss of life and property.

“The civilian population in the border areas, it is pointed out, is under huge economic stress and the border skirmishes are to further compound its problems,” it said.

‘Revocation of the 5th August 2019 decisions and unconditional dialogue with all the stakeholders is pivotal to the lasting peace and prosperity in the region,” the joint statement said.

The party demanded immediate annulment of all the August 5, 2019 decisions and restoration of the August 4, 2019 constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir.

It also called for opening of all traditional routes including Kargil-Skardu, Jammu-Sialkot and Poonch-Rawalakot to allow free movement of the people across the LoC and the LAC and to promote people-to-people contact and strengthen inter-regional trade and cultural links.

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