Mainstream political parties of Kashmir, including the National Conference, PDP, Congress and People’s Conference, on Saturday issued a joint statement reiterating their commitment to strive for restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, and said all their other political activities would be subservient to that.
The statement was signed by NC president Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti who remains under detention, People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone, state Congress chief G A Mir, CPM leader M Y Tarigami and Muzaffar Shah of the J&K Awami National Conference — the signatories also of the Gupkar Declaration of August 5, 2019, the day the special status of J&K was scrapped. Of the signatories then of a resolution to fight unitedly for the special status, only Shah Faesal, who announced recently that he was quitting politics, was not part of Saturday’s statement.
The leaders said, “We are committed to strive for restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the constitution of J&K and restoration of the state, and any division of the state is unacceptable to us. We unanimously reiterate that there can be nothing about us without us.”
Saying that there was “unanimity amongst us that collective institution is the effective way” to fight for rights of the people of J&K, they said, “We want to assure the people that all our political activities will be subservient to the sacred goal of reverting to the status of J&K as it existed on 4th August 2019.”
The statement also noted that the signatories had “barely managed to establish a basic level of communication with each other” in the face of the prohibitive and punitive curbs imposed by the government, “aimed at impeding all social and political interactions”. “The limited confabulations held within the constraints imposed have resulted in this unanimous resolution,” the leaders added.
NC sources said that a meeting was held at NC MP Hasnain Masoodi’s residence on Thursday, attended by Lone, Abdullah and Tarigami, where the decision to issue the statement was taken. Lone and Masoodi then worked on it. “There were deliberations on the need for everyone to come together at this moment,” a leader told The Sunday Express.
Calling the events of August 5, 2019, unfortunate, the statement issued on Saturday said, “In a spitefully shortsighted and unconstitutional move, Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated and the state was bifurcated and relegated to the status of two Union territories and its constitution tried to be made unenforceable.”
They said the decisions had “unrecognisably” changed the relationship between J&K and New Delhi. “The measures attempt to redefine who we are. These changes were accompanied by repressive measures meant to silence people and coerce them into submission, and continue unabated.”
They also called upon the leadership of the subcontinent to take due notice of the “ever-increasing skirmishes at the LAC and LoC, resulting in casualties on both sides” as well as the unabated violence in J&K, and to work for enduring peace in the region.
On August 5, 2019, the mainstream political leaders had met at Abdullah’s residence on Gupkar Road in Sringar and unanimously resolved to stay “united in their resolve to protect and defend identity, autonomy and special status of J&K against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever”.
Following the release of the statement, Lone tweeted his thanks to Abdullah, Mufti and Tarigami. “A very satisfying day. We firmly believe that a collective mechanism is the only way out. It is no longer about power. It is about a struggle to get back what rightfully belongs to us.”
Iltija Javed, Mufti’s daughter who operates her Twitter handle, posted, “Ms Mufti appreciates the statesmanship shown by Dr Farooq sahab in forging a collective response to Delhi’s onslaught.”