Srinagar: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgamation of several mainstream parties, in its maiden convention here on Tuesday passed a resolution reiterating demand for restoration of special constitutional position and full statehood to J&K.
“The constitutional position as it existed on 4 August 2019 in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh must be restored,” PAGD spokesman, M Y Tarigami said at the end of the convention while addressing a press conference.
Elaborating, he said that Articles 370 and 35A ensured special constitutional position to J&K. He said these articles, and J&K’s constitution “which was brought to an end unconstitutionally must be restored, is our basic demand and agenda.”
Dozens of party workers and leaders of the PAGD constituents participated in the convention, the first one after its formation on 4 August 2019.
The convention was held at the Gupkar residence of the PAGD and National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, which among other leaders was attended by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehooba Mufti.
Commenting on the all-party meet chaired by PM Modi in New Delhi in June, Tarigami said: “In the meeting, we had demanded that Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) be taken. We had highlighted how jails were witnessing occupancy beyond capacity in J&K and outside. At that point in time, they (GoI) had said that they would review and make an assessment, but we must be told how many people have been released since then,” Tarigami said.
“A senior administrator recently made a statement that no political person is in detention. But recently many youths from J&K were freed from long detention after being proven innocent by the courts. An attempt is being made to destroy the political workers here as if they are thieves,” Tarigami said.
Tarigami said that claims being made by the government on investments, development and job avenues in J&K in the wake of new land laws and domicile laws were “a dream and not a reality”.
“Some sections in Jammu used to feel that behavior of leadership in Kashmir towards them was not appropriate. Today one gets surprised to see the economic condition in Jammu and the status of jobs. Look at what has happened to the land rights people had possessed there after a hard struggle,” Tarigami said.
Tarigami said the changes made in the schedule of annual Darbar Move practice by the government “will take a toll on business in Jammu in days to come”.
Tarigami also accused the government of changing the ‘scenario of top posts’ in bureaucracy. “Go to the Civil Secretariat today and see who holds the plum posts. As far as DCs and top posts in police and other departments, where should people of J&K and Ladakh go? There is so much of a discrimination against these people and they have been humiliated,” Tarigami said.
Referring to a recent government order which directed that any person involved in stone pelting or other such activities will not get a government job, he said: “Justice and judicial system still prevail in our country and to act against a person without proving that he is a criminal, is not right. You cannot deprive him of his rights till proven guilty in court.”
Tarigami said that several “tall leaders of PAGD have been disturbed” and “slanderous campaigns” have been launched against them. “Historically it is impossible to suppress voice of people", the PAGD spokesman said, adding that there have been attempts that J&K, Ladakh “are made as silent as a graveyard.” The present day government, he said, “doesn’t want anyone raise their voice.”
As far PAGD is concerned, he said, “we came into formation on 4 August 2019 when an attempt was made to break the constitution and to remove the special constitutional position that we had got after a long struggle, not as charity but through the Constituent Assembly”.
While making a fervent appeal to the civil society, media, parliament and some other sections of the country that “humiliation of people of J&K must stop”, Tarigami said, “we are seeking our rights as we want to live like the rest of the people with heads raised. We don’t want to live a life of humiliation and the present day government has decided to humiliate us. They consider our humiliation as their pride which is unacceptable to us,” said Tarigami.
He said by holding its first joint convention, the PAGD wanted to convey a message that “despite being in separate umbrellas and following different ideologies, as far as this platform (PAGD) is concerned, all the constituents have decided that they will continue the journey together while demanding for the rights which has been guaranteed by the Constitution”.
Later in the day, a copy of the resolution issued to the media by the PAGD stated: "Unconstitutional decisions of August 5, 2019 taken in the Parliament to nullify Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India and the damaging legislation which dismembered the historic state and created two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh - has created a big political void and deep uncertainty in the erstwhile state.
“It is most unfortunate that the judicial challenges against this abrogation as a violation of the Constitution continue to remain pending before the Supreme Court even after two years.
“The suppression of civil liberties and democratic rights continues unabated. Attack on democratic rights under the draconian laws like UAPA/PSA continues as hundreds of people remain under detention without even charges being framed. New orders are being passed like non-clearance for passports and government services to anyone involved in ‘law and order’ or ‘stone pelting cases’. This negates the principle of natural justice by equating a police report with being guilty and being denied all these services. Jurisprudence underlines that everyone is innocent till proven guilty.
“By making the status of Permanent Residents of erstwhile state redundant, thereby, the protection of jobs and land rights were snatched arbitrarily which deepened the sense of insecurity in the regions and communities.
“Economy of the region is getting from bad to worse day-by-day as the tall promises of development, investment and job creation of the government have fallen flat. Instead of creating new employment opportunities, daily-wagers, casual labourers, scheme workers and other contractual employees are either not getting wages regularly or are being altogether denied their wages. Agriculture and Horticulture, Tourism, handicrafts, transport and other sectors are in deep crisis.
“Successive executive orders post August 2019 like domicile laws, curbs on media, intimidation of government employees, discriminatory rules on employment are some of the authoritarian diktats that have been imposed on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Termination of some employees without giving them a chance to be heard has created a fear-psychosis among the employees in general. Local officers are being sidelined and the abolition of the State Cadre is one more step towards disempowerment of the people.
“Unabated killings of people, including political activists, in Kashmir belie the government’s peace and normalcy claims. This meeting unequivocally condemns the killings of unarmed persons, including political activists.
“It is absolutely imperative that people in every region and community in J&K remain united and not fall prey to false campaigns and attempts aimed at dividing and disempowering them further.
“Not only in Kashmir, but there is huge dissatisfaction over the impact of the undemocratic course adopted by the Center and the local administration in Jammu and Ladakh regions as well. People in all regions of the erstwhile state have started questioning the BJP’s claim of ‘Naya Kashmir’. People want to know what they have achieved by destroying the perspective of Naya Kashmir which was framed through hard and protracted struggle by the people against the autocratic regime and feudal lords.
“Nothing substantial has emerged after the Prime Minister’s ‘Dilli ki Doori and Dil ki Doori’ slogan during his meeting with J&K leaders in New Delhi two months back. No confidence-building measures have been taken to provide some relief to distressed people of the region.
“Statehood as it existed prior to August 5, 2019 must be restored. All political prisoners must be released immediately. Indiscriminate use of draconian laws must be put to an end. We firmly resolve to uphold the glorious traditions of unity, amity and brotherhood of the people of different regions and communities. We assure our people that we shall remain on their side under all circumstances for their better future and dignified life.”