On Foundation Day, JKAP reiterates demand of restoration of statehood, assembly polls
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Altaf Bukhari on Monday said the priority of his party was restoration of statehood and holding of Assembly elections in the union territory as only the country’s Parliament or the Supreme Court could restore Articles 370 and 35-A of the Constitution.
“I am not a dream merchant… We only talk about achievable things. Our priority is restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and holding of early assembly elections only,” Bukhari told reporters on the first anniversary of his newly-floated party here.
Bukhari said each individual in Jammu and Kashmir wanted restoration of statehood.
“Article 370 and Article 35-A were not just numbers for us. They were reflection of our emotions and sentiments. However, only Parliament or the Supreme Court can restore these provisions,” he said.
He said the agenda framed by the Apni Party on the day of its birth was “pursued in letter and spirit but due to certain things like prolonged shutdown in the wake of Article 370 revocation and bifurcation of erstwhile state of J&K into UTs followed by COVID-19 outbreak we couldn’t pursue our manifesto the way it should have been.”
“Nevertheless, we did our best and didn’t sit in our homes. We didn’t either show hollow dreams to people of J&K and never promised something that is not achievable,” Bukhari said.
Asked about the Apni Party’s silence over restoration of J&K’s special status, he said that he “can’t make false promises as it is the Parliament of India that can restore special status to J&K”.
“I would like to make it clear that August 05, 2019 was the darkest day in the history of J&K that nobody will forget. We will strive hard for restoration of statehood to J&K and if Delhi delays it, we will not hesitate to hit the streets,” he said.
Bukhari enlisted several decisions taken by the Centre as his fledgling party’s successes in the past one year including reserving all jobs in Jammu and Kashmir for domiciles of the union territory.
“When we learnt that only class four jobs have been reserved for domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir, we met the prime minister and home minister. The next day all the jobs were reserved for domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir,” Bukhari said.
He also listed the notification for implementation of Central Forest Rights Act in Jammu and Kashmir among the achievements.
“During our meeting with the home minister, we pointed out that the (central) laws which were beneficial for Jammu and Kashmir were not being extended (to the UT). The home minister directed the home secretary to have it notified,” he said.
Bukhari blamed the bureaucracy in Jammu and Kashmir for the “mess they have made”.
“So far, the rights and duties of District Development Councils have not been notified. It seems like the bureaucrats do not want to give up the powers (they are enjoying currently),” he said.
Bukhari termed the local bureaucracy as inefficient saying it has not been able to fix the rate of mutton for so many months now.
“Is this a conspiracy to turn meat-eating people into vegetarians? It is not about one community… even our Kashmiri Pandit brothers consume meat and fish on Shivratri,” he said.
The Apni Party president said the condition of the Jammu-Srinagar highway leaves a lot to be desired.
“Earlier, the highway used to be open for 28 days and closed for two days a month. Now, it is closed for 28 days and open for two. If Leh road can be opened on 28 February, why cannot the Mughal Road (connecting Kashmir to Jammu via Poonch-Rajouri) be kept open round the year?” he asked.
Demanding early Assembly polls, Bukhari said that if Apni Party is voted to power, it “will take historic steps especially making 25 years mandatory for becoming the domicile of the state”.
“We ensured that land policy is amended and today our 88 percent land is safe which is the outcome of our meeting with the prime minister and home minister,” he said.
Bukhari also lamented on the National Conference’s decision of staying away from Delimitation exercise.
He suggested the party could have participated in the process and put forth its point.
“At times, I believe boycotting something is aimed at facilitating the bigger plans. Perhaps, Delhi’s plan was to be made successful by staying away,” he said, taking a jibe at NC.
He urged the Delimitation Commission to finish its job as soon as possible stating that the exercise was “so simple and not complicated as is being projected”.
On the occasion, Bukhari also launched the party’s website: https//jkapniparty.com. He appealed the people, especially the youth, to visit the site, which he said is compatible on mobile phones as well to assess the Apni Party’s “vision, mission and day-to-day activities”.