Political parties unite on J&K's Constitutional position

File Pic: Mubashir Khan/GK

More than a year after all major political parties of Jammu and Kashmir issued the “Gupkar Declaration”, asserting their stand on the state’s special status, six of them on Saturday passed a joint resolution stating they will “strive for reverting to pre-August 5, 2019, position.”

The parties had passed the Gupkar Declaration on August 4 last year, a day before the Government of India scrapped J&Ks special constitutional status. They today said that they remain united and stand by the declaration.

The joint statement of the six parties – issued by National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone, CPI (M) senior leader Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president GA Mir and JK Awami National Conference vice-president Muzaffar Shah – is the first time political parties have spoken together in over one year’s time.

In the joint statement, the political leaders said they will “strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J&K and the restoration of the State.” They said that “any division of the state is unacceptable to us. We unanimously reiterate that there can be nothing about us without us.”

The joint statement has been issued two days after National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah expressed optimism over the prospectus of an all-party meeting to discuss the Gupkar Declaration.

“The signatories to the Gupkar Declaration of 4th August 2019 have barely managed to establish a basic level of communication with each other in the face of a series of 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 joint statement said.

It may be recalled that an all-party meeting called by Dr Farooq Abdullah on August 5 this year was disallowed by the authorities. However, the political parties on Saturday broke their silence on the issue of abrogation of Article 370 by passing the joint resolution.

“The unfortunate events of 5th August 2019 have unrecognizably changed the relationship between J&K and New Delhi. 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,” the joint statement said. The leaders said a series of measures undertaken on August 5, 2019 were “grossly unconstitutional and in reality measures of disempowerment and a challenge to the basic identity of the people of J&K.”

“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,” the joint statement said. “These are testing times and times of pain for the peace loving people of J&K. We all reiterate our commitment to collectively fight to restore the Special Status of J&K as guaranteed under the Constitution and the commitments made from time to time. There is unanimity amongst us that collective institutions are the effective way to fight for these rights and tirelessly struggle to get back the special status and restore the Constitutional guarantees forcibly taken away, against our will. 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 added.

The joint statement also thanked political parties and sections of civil society across the country, whom they said had played a key role in “opposing the unconstitutional measures of 5th August 2019 and stood with the people of J&K in this crises”. “We appeal for their unstinted support to our just cause till the unconstitutional measures of 5th August 2019 are undone and the special status of J&K restored,” the statement said. “We all reiterate that we are bound, wholly, by the contents of the Gupkar Declaration and will unwaveringly adhere to it. We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J&K and the restoration of the State and any division of the State is unacceptable to us,” the joint statement said.

The joint statement also urged leadership of the subcontinent to “take due notice of the ever increasing skirmishes at the LAC and LOC resulting in casualties on both sides and unabated violent incidents in J&K and work for enduring peace in the region.”

Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone took to Twitter and welcomed the move. “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. Thanks Dr Farooq sahib, Mehbooba Ji and Tarigami sahib,” Lone wrote on Twitter.

Similarly, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti while quoting her mother wrote: “Ms Mufti appreciates the statesmanship shown by Dr Farooq sahib in forging a collective response to Delhi’s onslaught on J&K’s special status. It’s time we forego political differences & stand together.”