Kashmir political parties forge alliance to fight for Art 370

A day after Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti was released from 14-month detention, political parties signatories to the Gupkar Declaration vowed to continue their struggle for restoration of pre-August 5, 2019, position.

The group which held its first full meeting after over one year at National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah’s residence on Thursday said they have given it the formal name of “Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.”

“Our battle is a constitutional battle so that position which existed prior to August 5, 2019, is restored. We want the government of India to return to the people of this state the rights they held before August 5. We have given the declaration a name of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration,” said National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is leading the alliance, while addressing the media after the meeting.

The alliance which passed the Gupkar Declaration on August 4, 2019, a day before the Government of India scrapped the special Constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir has also called for initiation of dialogue “for resolution of Kashmir issue.”

“We feel that the political issue of the state has to be resolved and that can only be resolved through a dialogue with peaceful means with all the stakeholders who are involved in the problems of Jammu and Kashmir,” Dr Abdullah said. He said the political parties will meet again soon to discuss the future course of action. “Today’s meeting was called in a hurry as she (Mehbooba) was released just a day before yesterday. We thought it was important for us to meet and greet her. At the same time we are going to meet people from other regions of the state so that we can have a broader discussion on the issues we are putting before the people of  the state as well as the government,” Dr Abdullah said.

Dr Abdullah said one of the objectives of the meeting of all political parties “was to congratulate and greet” Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti who was released from 14-month detention on Tuesday night.

“Since Mehbooba ji was released from the 14-month detention day before, all the parties who met today congratulated her and greeted her for joining the meeting. All the decisions taken will be announced in the next meeting,” Dr Abdullah said.

He also demanded the release of other leaders that were placed under detention in the wake of the centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 on August 5 last year.

Earlier, several political leaders including PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone, CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami, Awani National Conference senior vice-president Muzaffar Shah took part in the meeting. However, J&K Congress chief G A Mir couldn’t attend the meeting due to health reasons. A statement issued by Congress said Mir had communicated the reason for his absence to Dr Abdullah. It may be recalled that during a recent Congress party event, Mir had said that any forward movement on the Gupkar Declaration was not possible till Mehbooba Mufti was released from detention. Several NC leaders including Ali Muhammad Sagar, Hasnain Masoodi and Nasir Aslam Wani were also present in the meeting.

The signatories of the Gupkar Declaration had passed a joint resolution on August 22 this year, reaffirming their stand on the special status of J&K. Even though Mehbooba Mufti remained under detention back then, the alliance had said that she was consulted before drafting of the resolution. Making clear that there can be “nothing about us without us” in Jammu and Kashmir, six political parties termed abrogation of special status of the erstwhile state as a “spitefully shortsighted” and “grossly unconstitutional” move and pledged a combined effort for restoration of the pre-August 5 position of last year.

The all-party meeting on Thursday took place after Dr Abdullah and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah called on Mehbooba Mufti at her residence on Wednesday and invited her to take part in Thursday’s meeting. Even as political parties who have been signatories of the Gupkar Declaration have united, it has been drawing flak from the Bharatiya Janata Party which has termed it as “anti-national.”

‘Gupkar Declaration’ is a pledge of political parties which they took at a meeting held at Dr Farooq Abdullah’s residence at Gupkar Road on August 4, 2019, a day before the state was stripped of its special status and split into two Union Territories.

It had warned the centre that abrogation and even modification of Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution and trifurcation of the state would be seen as an “aggression” against its people and fought tooth and nail. The meeting had also unanimously declared that all the parties would be united in their resolve to protect and defend identity, autonomy and special status of J&K against all “attacks and onslaughts.”