Altaf Bukhari, a former minister in the Mehbooba Mufti government in Jammu & Kashmir, will launch a new political outfit-Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party-on Sunday. Bukhari told The Indian Express that while he does not see elections happening in Kashmir for at least another year, “people’s issues cannot wait to be addressed any longer”.
“This will be a party for the common people of Kashmir, no blue bloods. We will launch on Women’s Day. The issues of the common people of Jammu and Kashmir need to be highlighted,” he said.
Bukhari, a businessman, held the education and finance portfolios in the erstwhile state’s PDP-BJP coalition government.
“We will foremost, fight for the release of all political workers and leaders of the state. Our second urgent concern is the state of J&K’s economy,” Bukhari said. He added that while the Supreme Court “will decide on the future of the state”, it is up to the civil society to raise their concerns. “It was only after we and the civil society raised our voice that internet was restored. Likewise, we have to come together to take up other issues.”
The former minister was expelled from the PDP in January 2019 following allegations that he “inspired and led dissent in the party”. While he did not elaborate on who will be part of the new party, sources said that several of his former PDP colleagues are expected to join.
Bukhari said that while he and his colleagues had been mulling the formal launch of a party for more than three months, they were waiting for the release of “at least a majority” of state’s political leaders.
Three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — continue to be detained since the scrapping of special status to J&K on August 5, while a number of other political leaders are under house arrest.
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