After chairing the maiden party meeting of National Conference in over one year’s time, party president Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said the political parties stand by the Gupkar Declaration issued last year and it remains to be the core issue.
“God willing we will have an all-party meeting on the Gupkar Declaration. We are not running away from it as it is our core issue. The all-party meeting on August 5 this year was not allowed to take place as you all know,” Dr Abdullah said at a press conference after meeting several NC senior leaders at his Gupkar residence.
This was for the first time after more than a year that Dr Abdullah chaired a party meeting and spoke at length about the Gupkar Declaration, signed by heads of several political parties on August 4 last year “to assert their stand on J&K’s special status,” just a day before Government of India scrapped the constitutional status of J&K.
Dr Abdullah said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti continues to remain an important part of the Gupkar Declaration saying she is one of the signatories. The NC president and Member of Parliament from Srinagar said, “It is a matter of concern that many leaders were put under detention for more than a year.”
“We are in constant touch with Mehbooba Mufti and hopeful of her release at the earliest. She is a part of the Gupkar Declaration that we made here and a signatory to it. We are also concerned about her and want her to be free from detention,” Dr Abdullah said.
Responding to a question that many political leaders who were part of the Gupkar Declaration “had changed sides”, Dr Abdullah said, “If the conscience of someone is so weak, how is Dr Farooq responsible for it. That particular person is answerable to his conscience. I don’t have an answer to it. If he (Dr Shah Faesal) is gone so what…. If one turns this side or that side it is not my problem.”
When asked why NC was maintaining a silence on important political issues, by saying it will comment only once its entire leadership is free from detention, Dr Abdullah said, “Kashmiris have waited for 70 years so how does it matter if they wait for another five years.”
Dr Abdullah said there was no way “that August 5, 2019 decisions had proved NC wrong or will prove the party wrong.”
“We have never been proved wrong and we will never be proved wrong and we will stay to our death day to what we believe in,” Dr Abdullah said.
The NC president said he was happy that four senior NC leaders – Nasir Aslam Wani, Muhammad Shafi Uri, Ali Muhammad Sagar and Abdul Rahim Rather – who have been under house detention for last more than one year were allowed to attend Thursday’s meeting. The NC parliamentarians, Hasnain Masoodi and Muhammad Akbar Lone, were also a part of the meeting which continued for almost 45 minutes.
Dr Abdullah said he will be meeting other ‘under detention’ party leaders batch-wise only after which NC will announce its political agenda. “The day our entire leadership is free we will be able to tell you what we have to say. Over the next few days I will be meeting more of our leaders who are under house detention but will do so in batches. Our effort is that Jammu and Kashmir moves in a direction of prosperity and people come out of the problems they are facing,” Dr Abdullah said. The NC president said he was thankful to the lawyers and the court of law which has played an important role in releasing its leadership from detention.
“I hope the leaders who have been able to attend this meeting are free in real sense. It shouldn’t be the case that today they have been allowed to come here and from tomorrow they are not allowed to move out,” Dr Abdullah said. “We are hopeful that others under house detention are also set free soon. The objective of calling today’s meeting was that these leaders are able to move out of their homes and visit this place,” Dr Abdullah said. The NC president said the party parliamentarians, including himself have “not got sufficient opportunity to speak in the Parliament. “Did I get a chance to go to the Parliament since then? Now let me go to the Parliament and then you can see my role and that of other parliamentarians,” Dr Abdullah said.
The NC patron said he was concerned about the slump in the economy and the situation owing to Covid19. “There is hardly anything to say as people continue to suffer. Businesses are down and so is tourism. On top of that the Covid19 has taken a heavy toll on people.”