Key political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir -- including National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, his arch-rival Mehbooba Mufti of the People's Democratic Party and Sajjad Lone -- come together to fight for the restoration of Article 370 and resolution of Kashmir. The freshly minted "People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration" comes more than a year after the Centre ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under the constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. Most political leaders in Kashmir Valley have been in custody for long -- it was part of the preventive measures against backlash taken by the Centre last August, a day before making the huge announcement in Parliament.
Mainstream Kashmir parties, who are signatories to the Gupkar Declaration, have formed an alliance to seek reversal of the constitutional changes in Jammu and Kashmir made on August 5, 2019, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah announced on Thursday.
The announcement of the People’s Alliance For Gupkar Declaration was made after the signatories met at Abdullah’s residence here. The Declaration, made on August 4, 2019, had called for safeguarding the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The meeting was convened a day after NC leaders and former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah met PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, also a former Chief Minister, at her residence after she was released from detention on Tuesday.
“The formal name of the alliance is People’s Alliance For Gupkar Declaration,” Farooq Abdullah said. “We want the Government of India to return to the people of the state the rights they had before August 5, 2019.”
He said it is a constitutional battle to resolve the political problem of Jammu and Kashmir in a peaceful manner through dialogue.
“We want the political issue of the state to be resolved as quickly as possible through dialogue in a peaceful manner with all the stakeholders involved in this problem.”
He said the detention of Mehbooba Mufti, who was released after 14 months, was illegal, unjustified and constitutional and demanded that all those who are still in prisons must be released immediately.
Abdullah also said the alliance partners will meet again soon.
“Meetings will be held with people of the state for a broader discussion,” he said.
The Gupkar declaration was passed by the mainstream parties a day before the revocation of Article 370 in August last year to defend the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mainstream parties, including National Conference, PDP, Congress, CPI-M, People’s Conference, People’s Movement and Awami National Conference were originally the signatories of the Gupkar deceleration.
On August 22 this year, these parties had issued a joint statement reiterating their commitment for the Gupkar deceleration.
Two days after she was released from detention, former Chief Minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti visited the grave of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Thursday. Later in the day, she attended the meeting convened by Farooq Abdullah.
It was the first time that she visited the grave of her father in more than a year since she was detained after the abrogation of Article 370.
“She went to pray at the grave of her father briefly on Thursday and returned to Srinagar,” a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member accompanying her said.
In January, Iltija Mufti, daughter of Mehbooba Mufti had asked the government to remove her security after she was prevented from visiting the grave of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on his fourth death anniversary.
The three former Chief Ministers were slapped with the Public Safety Act (PSA) after their detention following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year. They were among the 50 mainstream leaders detained after the revocation of Article 370.
After she was released on Tuesday evening, Mehbooba said Article 370 revocation was a ‘black decision on a black day and that the people of J&K must work unanimously for resolution of Kashmir Issue’.
She stressed on the unity between the mainstream parties of Kashmir.
“It was nice of you (Omar) and Farooq sahab to come home. It gave me courage listening to him. I am sure together we all can change things for the better,” she tweeted.
Meanwhile, a press conference of Mehbooba Mufti, which was scheduled for Friday has now been cancelled.
“In view of the meeting of Gupkar Declaration Signatories scheduled later today, Mehbooba Mufti’s presser scheduled for October 16 stands postponed. New date and time would be shared separately,” PDP leader Suhail Bukhari said. (IANS)