'Concerned Citizens of India' launches signature campaign against Gupkar Declaration

File Photo: Aman Farooq/GK

A group of 263 retired civil servants, including veterans from the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy and retired judges and senior Police officials become signatories of a signature campaign criticising the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) that vows to restore Article 370 in Jammu Kashmir.

The group under the banner ‘Concerned Citizens of India’ on Thursday issued a statement criticising the PAGD while calling it “anti-national”.

“Our group is quite disturbed at the manner in which certain vested interests have been continuously trying to misuse the freedom of expression, talk ill about our country and its constitution, and try to promote separatism,” the group said in a statement. It has also slammed former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti for her comments on the tri-colour during her maiden news conference after being released from 14-month detention.

“Mehbooba has crossed all limits of nationalistic and legal propriety and made herself liable to prosecution by contemptuously declaring that she will not hoist the national flag of India in Kashmir till the flag of Kashmir is hoisted,” the statement said referring to Mufti’s October 23 statement that she was not interested in contesting polls or holding the tricolor till special constitutional status of Jammu Kashmir was restored.

The group of retired veterans and other civil servants called it a “direct insult to the honour and dignity of the national flag”. “Through her provocative utterances, she has further incited the people of Kashmir to cause disaffection leading to disturbance of public order,” the statement said.

The group also criticised National Conference President and three-time chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who is also the president of PAGD, for his statement that Article 370 would be restored with the help of China. “These statements have rendered him and Mehbooba to be squarely liable to be detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978,” the Concerned Citizens of India said in the statement.

The group calls for their prosecution under Section 124-A of the IPC for sedition. “The Gupkar Gang is a blemished relic of Indian democracy. It is not surprising that political leaders from Pakistan have of late issued statements in its support. This shows them in their true unpatriotic colours,” said the statement, which has 263 signatories.

The ‘Gupkar Declaration’ is a pledge of Kashmir’s mainstream parties which they took at a meeting held at the Member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah’s residence at Gupkar Road on August 4, 2019, a day before J&K was stripped of its special status and split up into two union territories.

It had warned the Government of India that abrogation and even modification of Articles 35-A and Article 370 of the constitution and delimitation or 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”.