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Bouncing Back: J&K mainstream parties join hands for restoration of special status, statehood

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Say, ‘nothing about us without us’

Srinagar: After a year of scrapping of Article 370 and 35 A, six mainstream parties of J&K today made a bid to reclaim their political space by signing a joint statement making clear there can be “nothing about us without us” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The parties termed abrogation of special status of the erstwhile state as a “spitefully shortsighted” and “grossly unconstitutional” move and pledged a combined effort for restoration of the pre-August 5 position of last year.

A resolution termed Gupkar Declaration-II was circulated in media. It was signed by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, J-K Congress chief G A Mir, Peoples’ Conference chairman Sajjad Lone, state CPM(I) leader M Y Tarigami and Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference senior vice-president Muzaffar Shah.

This is the first combined statement issued by the political parties after more than a year.

Acknowledging the difficulties in bringing out a resolution of all political parties, it said the signatories to the Gupkar Declation-I, signed on August 4, 2019, “have barely managed to establish basic level of communication with each other” in the face of a series of prohibitive and punitive curbs imposed by the government, aimed at impeding all social and political interactions. The limited confabulations held within the constraints imposed have resulted in this unanimous resolution, it said.

These leaders had met on August 4, 2019 at the Gupkar residence of Abdullah and a statement, also known as ‘Gupkar Declaration’, had asked people to maintain calm and peace and urged the Centre not to alter the constitutional status of the erstwhile state.

However, the very next day the government moved a resolution in Parliament and announced abrogation of Article 370, a provision giving edge in residency and jobs to local people, and also bifurcated it into two union territories — Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

“We all reiterate that we are bound, wholly, by the contents of the Gupkar Declaration and will unwaveringly adhere to it. We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J-K and the restoration of the state and any division of the state is unacceptable to us. We unanimously reiterate that there can be ‘nothing about us without us’,” Gupkar Resolution-II said.

The national and regional political parties termed the changes made in the state in August last year as “unfortunate” which have unrecognizably changed the relationship between Jammu and Kashmir 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”, it said.

It said the measures undertaken last year were “grossly unconstitutional” and in reality measures of disempowerment and a challenge to the basic identity of the people of J-K.

“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,” it said.

“We all reiterate our commitment to collectively fight to restore the special status of J-K as guaranteed under the Constitution and the commitments made from time to time,” the resolution said, adding these were the testing times and times of pain for the peace loving people of Jammu and Kashmir.

There is unanimity among political parties that a collective institution is the effective way to fight for these rights and tirelessly struggle to get back the special status and restore the constitutional guarantees forcibly taken away, against their will, it said.

“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,” it said.

The political parties also expressed their gratitude to the people of India, political parties, intelligentsia and other civil society groups for opposing the unconstitutional measures of last year and standing with the people of J-K in this crises and appealed to them to continue with their “unstinted support to our just cause” till the unconstitutional measures of are undone and the special status restored.

Touching upon the situation along Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China, the resolution said, “We exhort leadership of the subcontinent to take due notice of the ever increasing skirmishes at the LAC and LoC resulting in casualties on both sides and unabated violent incidents in J-K and work for enduring peace in the region.”

The J&K Unit of Congress, though being the signatory, seemed to be having second thoughts.

“Our representative had signed Gupkar declaration last year. A lot has changed since then. We are for restoration of statehood to J&K but on abrogation of 370, we should wait for Supreme Court verdict rather than forging any political entente,” said GA Mir, state Congress chief. “Dr Farooq Abdullah spoke to me a few days back but I have not signed the statement,” he said.

In a tweet, Mehbooba Mufti who is still under detention under the Public Safety Act, has praised her long-time rival Farooq Abdullah for ensuring political unity in Kashmir to fight for its rights.

“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,” it said.

It may be recalled here that Mufti’s twitter handle is being operated by her daughter, Iltija Mufti.

Sajjad Lone also put his weight firmly behind the new arrangement. He 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.”

Cong stands for full statehood of J&K, constitutional safeguards for residents land & jobs

Jammu  (PTI) : The Jammu and Kashmir Congress on Saturday said it stands for the struggle to safeguard genuine rights of the people and the lost identity of the erstwhile state after the abrogation of its special status last year.

“The party has time and again reiterated its demand for the restoration of full statehood of Jammu and Kashmir along with constitutional guarantees and safeguards for the land and jobs to local residents.

“The party also supports the demand of the people of Ladakh for protection of their rights under the sixth schedule of the Constitution,” J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president G A Mir said in a statement here.

He said the entire top brass of the party would meet shortly to review the whole post-Aug 5 situation and take the “appropriate decision to intensify its struggle on all issues, taking into account the sentiments of the majority of the people in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”.

Mir said his party, along with other like-minded parties, had on August 4, 2019 sought the status quo on the issue of special status amid the apprehensions that the central government may resort to some “unique and unilateral” action.

“Those fears came out to be true when the Centre government resorted to the undemocratic and arbitrary exercise of power by disbanding, dividing and downgrading the historical state into (two) UTs while abrogating the special status of the state unconstitutionally, followed by lockdown and unprecedented restrictions on all mainstream leaders,” the Congress leader said.

He said his party vehemently opposed the “unilateral and arbitrary” moves of the Centre both in the Parliament and outside it and consistently protested against its “undemocratic and authoritarian actions” that followed after August 5 decisions.

Kashmir politicians day-dreaming, restoration of Article 370 next to impossible: BJP

Jammu  (PTI):  Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina on Saturday said the Kashmir-based politicians are “day-dreaming” for the restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution which is “next to impossible”.

He claimed the controversial Articles were like a “wall of hatred” which did nothing except “digging an ocean of misunderstandings” and retarding the growth and development of the erstwhile state.

The J&K BJP chief made the remarks after various political parties in Kashmir on Saturday unanimously resolved to fight for the restoration of the special status of the erstwhile state as it existed before August 5, 2019, and said the measures taken were “spitefully shortsighted” and “grossly unconstitutional”.

Reacting to the statement, Raina said “the restoration of Articles 370 & 35(a) is next to impossible. Due to these Articles, J&K has suffered for decades and they gave rise to terrorism, separatism and flared up the Pakistani agenda and as such, they won’t be restored at any cost”.

“Kashmir-based leaders are doing nothing except daydreaming as they are feeling restless to return to the corridors of power to enjoy all luxuries for themselves and their near and dear ones,” Raina said, addressing party workers at Sialsui village of Kalakote in Rajouri district.

He alleged that due to the pre-370 arrangements, more than one lakh people have lost their lives in J&K because these “pseudo-leaders were carrying on their duties with the hidden agenda of Pakistan”.

Raina said the people of J&K have rejected the “dirty politics” of parties like the National Conference, Congress, PDP and the People’s Conference and the J&K is now progressing on the definitive lines of unprecedented development.

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