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PAGD reiterates to struggle for restoration of J&K’s special status; says ‘all options open’

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Tarigami appointed new spokesman of conglomerate

Srinagar: In its first meeting in six months, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Wednesday said it has kept all its “options open” in the struggle for the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have not closed any options. We will discuss it as and when they (Centre) invite us (for talks),” PAGD chairman Farooq Abdullah told reporters after the meeting at the residence of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti here.

It was the first meeting of the alliance since December last year when it met to discuss the results of the District Development Council (DDC) elections.

It was also the first meeting since the People’s Conference led by Sajad Gani Lone, who was the spokesman of the amalgam, quit the alliance earlier this year.

The PAGD, after Wednesday’s meeting, named veteran CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami as its spokesperson.

Asked about speculations about the further division of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said the PAGD leaders were as much in the dark as the general public.

“We also heard about the rumours just like you do. We do not know but we are steadfast and believe that Allah will protect us,” the National Conference president said.

In response to a question, he said the political parties have challenged various steps taken by the Centre since August 05, 2019, and will continue to pursue the legal option.

Abdullah said the amalgam could not do much politically due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We are going through this pandemic and it is a deadly disease. Hundreds of thousands have died due to it. We have to be very careful (and) not contribute in its spread,” he added.

Asked if he would resign from Parliament in case the Centre went ahead with further division of the union territory as rumoured, an angry Abdullah said, “No”.

“We have to fight this fire by staying inside Parliament. My father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, was offered Saudi citizenship by King Faisal when he came to know that he (National Conference founder) would be arrested on his return to India. But Sheikh Sahib refused, saying he has to fight the fire by staying in the fire,” the NC leader claimed.

Tarigami said the debate about whether the politicians from Kashmir should go to Parliament or not should stop now.

“We want to assure the people that the PAGD will use every opportunity — even the weakest opportunity — to resist for the people. I also want to assure the people… never ever misunderstand us, be it people of Jammu, Kashmir or Ladakh. We shall always be on the side of the people,” he added.

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