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Setback to Apni Party in Jammu; state women’s president, several leaders resign

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Allege party was not allowing them to raise public issues, demand restoration of statehood

Jammu: In a major setback to Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, its women’s wing state president Namrata Sharma and several of her women colleagues resigned from the party on Wednesday — minutes after the party announced the immediate suspension of the state women president and the provincial committee on the recommendations of the disciplinary committee.

The dramatic turn of events unfolded within days after the party president and former minister Altaf Bukhari held a series of public meetings in Samba, Kathua and Jammu in an attempt to strengthen the party.

“My whole team has tendered resignation from the party on April 18 to protest ignoring of Jammu leadership and unnecessary curbs to stop us from raising the public issues like the demand for restoration of statehood before assembly elections and holiday on account of the last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday,” Sharma told reporters here.

Flanked by several party colleagues including provincial vice-president Jyoti Ved and provincial secretaries Parvinder Kour, Sapna and Rittu, the woman leader said it was a very difficult decision for them to leave a party for which “we have given our sweat and blood” over the past two years.

“You might have seen many other leaders like Jammu district president Pranab Shagotra, provincial youth president Gourav Kapoor, Kashmiri Pandit leaders Vinod Pandita and Sanjay Dhar and Kashmiri leader Irfan Naqeeb leaving the party in the recent past along with many elected panchayat members. It is all because the leaders are being ignored and they are unable to raise public issues,” she said.

“The party is accused of being the B-team of BJP which invested in the party after failing to make inroads in Kashmir…whenever we tried to speak against the administration for its anti-people policies, we were asked by the leadership to keep silent which shows that the party is in hand-in-glove with the saffron party,” Sharma said.

She said the party was formed on the slogan of restoration of statehood to J&K after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 but it has failed to keep its promises and done nothing to raise the demand.

“On April 17, Bukhari called for release of former MLA Engineer Rashid (arrested in a case related to terror funding through hawala) but on the other we are not allowed to speak in support of the demand for holiday on account of birthday of our last Dogra ruler who is our pride. We were feeling strangulated in the party,” she said, adding the people in Jammu are nationalist by core and can go to any extent to safeguard the national interests and the Dogra pride.

Asked whether she is planning to join any other party, Sharma said she has not taken any decision yet but would like to speak to her people before making up her mind.

Earlier, Apni Party general secretary Rafi Ahmad Mir said the post of state president women’s wing was kept under suspension till further orders on the recommendations of the disciplinary committee, looking into a complaint of state women wing president demanding expulsion of an office bearer on the grounds of indiscipline.

The provisional committee women’s wing Jammu province is also kept under suspension with immediate effect on the recommendations of the disciplinary committee, Mir said.

Sharma questioned the order and said it is full of ambiguity. “I have lodged a complaint and I am placed under suspension.”

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