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PAGD, PC, PDP, Apni Party say, ‘the decision furthered alienation’

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Second anniversary of abrogation of Article 370…

Srinagar: On the eve of the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into union territories, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Wednesday said the hoax of BJP’s “Naya Kashmir” is a joke now as people have started questioning the futility of the August 2019 move.

It appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to stand united and said “we shall not succumb but continue our struggle in defence of our rights using every opportunity through peaceful and legal means.”

“August 05 marks the completion of two years since the unprecedented assault on the Constitution of India was taken to nullify Article 370 of the Constitution, thereby damaging the very bond of our relationship with the Union of India. By demolishing the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, the government has crossed all limits of constitutionality,” PAGD spokesperson and senior CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said in a statement here.

The PAGD — an amalgam of various mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — said it was hoped that the central government would realise the futility of its decisions of August 05, 2019.

“The recent participation of J&K leaders (in a meeting) with the prime minister was a leap of faith on that hope but none of the measures required to begin rebuilding the shattered confidence of the people of J&K has been taken. J&K remains as far from Delhi and from the ‘Dil’ (heart) of India as it has ever been.  Rather the distances are further widening…,” Tarigami said.

He said downgrading the historic state of Jammu and Kashmir and dividing it into two separate union territories without the consent of the people and also ignoring the resolution adopted by the J&K legislature on March 03, 2004 to preserve the unity and the secular character of Jammu & Kashmir state has set a precedent that any state can cease to exist as a state and can be carved up into any number of fragments any time, by placing it under Governor’s Rule.

“The hoax of BJP’s Naya Kashmir is a joke now. The people have started questioning those in authority as to what they have achieved by destroying Jammu and Kashmir,” the PAGD leader said.

Referring to the abrogation of Article 35-A that made the status of permanent residents redundant, the statement said the protection of jobs and land rights was removed arbitrarily which deepened the alienation and sense of insecurity in all the regions.

“The economy of J&K has virtually collapsed as tourism, trade, agriculture, horticulture and handicraft sectors were badly hit. Employment opportunities are shrinking. Is corruption any less and governance any better?  The fact remains not a single claim stands the test of scrutiny,” he said.

He said the PAGD earnestly appeals to all sections of the people in each region and community to remain united and not to fall prey to the “false and slanderous campaigns and divisive attempts aiming at dividing and disarming our people.”

Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah, senior leader of NC, a constituent of PAGD, in an interview to PTI said that after initially being “deeply jaded” he had realised that as a politician he didn’t have the right to “mourn” for long and could not let down the people struggling for their basic constitutional rights.

There is no doubt in Abdullah’s mind that the abrogation of Article 370 was “unconstitutional” which had been challenged as such on behalf of his party in the Supreme Court.

“I have hope and faith in the Supreme Court which had said that they could turn the clock back if merited. I am sure that someday justice will be done to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” the NC vice-president said.

Commenting on the anniversary of revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the People’s Conference on Wednesday said August 05 will perpetually be remembered as a “dark day” and “a day of disempowerment” in the history of the erstwhile state.

“August 5th is seen as a day of disempowerment, a reminder of the humiliation that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were subjected to,” party spokesperson Adnan Ashraf Mir said in a statement here.

He said the decisions taken on August 05, 2019 are spiteful and contrary to the ideals and values of a democracy and the federal character of the Indian State.

“These decisions contravene the very ideas of justice and dignity that form the core of the political system and constitutional philosophy of the Republic of India,” he said.

The party led by Sajad Gani Lone stated that the decisions of August 05, 2019 have dealt a severe blow to the collective sentiment of the people who championed the cause of Indian democracy, and those who upheld the electoral system through participation got the worst treatment despite their sacrifice for democracy in J&K.

“By revoking Article 370 of the constitution and downgrading J&K into a Union territory, the government of the day has inflicted irreversible humiliation to the advocates of mainstream in J&K and pushed them against the wall,” the spokesperson alleged.

The People’s Conference (PC), he said, is committed to continue its principled struggle for the rights and dignity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and that it will pursue this agenda through democratic and legal means.

Meanwhile, terming August 05 as a “black day” in the constitutional and democratic history of the country, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday said that the “draconian” steps taken on the day in 2019 have not only betrayed the trust of the people but also complicated the issue of J&K further and taken the political process back by decades.

In a statement issued here, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said that August 05 has become a reminder of the subversion of the democratic and constitutional system of the country and how the trust of the people of J&K and all the democrats of the country was betrayed.

“It is a day when the country was lied to and the highest institutions were misused. The day saw solemn promises being broken and the trust of millions of people being betrayed. On this day, the spirit of constitutionalism and democratic ethos were undermined as the people of J&K were robbed of their identity and rights,” Mufti said.

“All that happened on August 05, 2019 further complicated the issue of J&K and made the road to resolution of the problem more tedious and painful as people in general feel more alienated today. In order to restore peace with dignity in J&K, there is no alternative to dialogue and reconciliation to address internal as well as the external dimensions of the issue of Jammu & Kashmir,” she said.

Apni Party president Muhammad Altaf Bukhari on Wednesday said the abrogation of Articles 370 & 35-A on August 05, 2019 not “only snatched the special status of Jammu and Kashmir but also incremented the trust deficit and sense of alienation among the people to an exponential level”.

In a statement issued on the eve of the 2nd anniversary of the abrogation of the special status, Apni Party president said that J&K’s special status was “enshrined within the Indian Constitution and the unprecedented way it was revoked, did profoundly hurt the sentiments of the people of who continue to feel politically disempowered”.

“There exists no substitute to the special status to J&K. But we strongly hope and believe that the Supreme Court of India will reciprocate to the people’s collective demand and deliver justice. God forbid, even if the apex court’s verdict disregards peoples’ aspirations, the Apni Party will have no choice but to chalk out other peaceful means to pursue this goal with New Delhi,” he observed.

Bukhari said the Apni Party will put in constant efforts to get an early hearing in the Supreme Court on the subject. “We believe that the solution to the socio-economic and political problems faced by the people in J&K lies with New Delhi; so it will be unwise to disengage or dissociate ourselves from pursuing the redressal.”

He further said that “by now it must have been explicit to everyone in New Delhi that Article 370 was not an impediment in the way of development of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Unfortunately, we have not witnessed any major development taking place in J&K since August 05, 2019, as was projected by the advocates of abrogation of Article 370. Rather, ways of cultural imperialism have been facilitated by the bureaucratic regimes, who seem hell-bent to convert our heritage sites into commercial entities like Mubarak Mandi in Jammu,” he added.

Bukhari said that “though there was a need to do away with some gender issues in Article 35-A, the way this law was completely annulled was totally unjustified and arbitrary in nature”.

J&K Cong questions achievements post Article 370 abrogation

Jammu: Reiterating its demand for restoration of statehood on the eve of the second anniversary of Article 370’s abrogation, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress on Wednesday questioned the BJP government on the achievements it made towards the eradication of militancy, creation of jobs and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.

It termed August 05 “Yaddoyad” (the day of struggle) for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and also asked the government whether ‘Dil aur Dilli ki Doori’ had decreased. This was a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on June 24 to a group of leaders from the Union territory that he wanted to remove “Dil ki doori and Dilli ki doori” (distance between hearts and distance with Delhi).

“On August 05, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir was deprived of its identity as a state and stripped of all other rights, especially rights to land and jobs. So it remains a day of struggle to achieve our lost identity, status and other genuine rights so that our younger generations can avail and enjoy those rights which have been snatched from them,” J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said in a statement here.

He said the demand for restoration of statehood with the protection of genuine rights to land and jobs remained high on the Congress’s agenda along with that of holding early assembly elections to provide an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The BJP government should fulfill the genuine demand to create a conducive atmosphere for political process and elections without delay,” he said, adding the “delaying tactics” of the Centre had added to the resentment and anger among people who always sided with the country and defeated the designs of “anti-national and communal forces”.

On the eve of the second anniversary of “disbanding and downgrading of the state and abrogation of its special status”, Sharma asked the BJP whether militancy had been eliminated from Jammu and Kashmir.

“There were around 70 active militants in 2014, while the number is over 200 today, despite the elimination of hundreds of terrorists since then,” the Congress leader said.

“What is the progress on bringing the people (of Jammu and Kashmir) closer to Delhi as stated by the PM? If there is no unrest, why is there no restoration of statehood and early elections?” he asked.

Sharma also asked how many jobs were provided in the government sector in two years as the then Governor S P Malik had made an announcement of providing 50,000 jobs in three months.

“How many jobs were created in the private sector and how much investment and industrialisation has been witnessed?” he questioned.

The Congress leader also asked about the progress on the safe and dignified return of migrant Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.

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