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Thursday, October 29, 2020

J&K parties join forces to seek restoration of special status

The decision to formally name the alliance ‘People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’ was taken on Thursday.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: October 16, 2020 8:21:36 am
National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, former CM Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti address the press after the meeting of the Gupkar signatories (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

A year after the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories, mainstream political parties here have formalised an alliance to seek “restoration” of the erstwhile state’s special position before August 5, 2019.

The decision to formally name the alliance ‘People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’ was taken on Thursday. On August 4 last year — a day before the special status was revoked — the signatories of Gupkar declaration had vowed to “defend identity, autonomy and special status” of Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting on Thursday was held at the residence of National Conference president, MP and former CM Farooq Abdullah. Convened after the release of PDP chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti, the meeting was attended by Farooq, Mufti, National Conference vice-president and former CM Omar Abdullah, People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, CPM leader M Y Tarigami and Awami National Conference’s Muzaffar Shah, besides other mainstream leaders.

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“We have now named this alliance… a formal name to this alliance would be People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration’,” National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said after the meeting.

“Our battle is a constitutional battle and we want the government of India to return to the people of the (erstwhile) state the rights they had before 5th of August 2019,” he added.

The meeting was held at Farooq Abdullah’s residence (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

The signatories of the Gupkar declaration also demanded a resolution to the Kashmir issue. “Also at the same time, we feel the political issue of the state has to be resolved as quickly as possible,” Farooq said, flanked by Mufti and Omar. “And that can be resolved only through dialogue with all the stakeholders, who are involved in the problem of J&K.”

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Sources said the leaders discussed the political situation of Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of its special status and the challenges ahead of them. While the discussions happened in a “congenial atmosphere and every leader spoke his mind”, some leaders were of the opinion that “everything should be in writing” about the discussions and the meetings, a source said.

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti attended the meeting. She was released from detention two days ago

According to sources, the leaders agreed to take the debate to the people and to regions such as Leh and Kargil. “We have decided to reach out to people in all regions of Jammu and Kashmir and that’s why it has been named People’s Alliance. This should not be misconstrued just as an alliance of some political parties but an alliance of people for restoration of whatever has been snatched from us on August 5 last year,” said a leader who attended the meeting.

In a brief interaction with the media, Farooq said they would initiate discussions with different sections of the society.

While Thursday’s meeting was aimed at formalising the alliance, the biggest challenge for the political parties would be to reach a consensus on their joint strategy.

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