Srinagar: Addressing the biggest rally in Srinagar post-August 5, 2019, Apni Party President Altaf Bukhari Saturday demanded immediate restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and early assembly polls.
The rally organised by Apni Party at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium saw people from all corners of Kashmir joining it with enthusiasm, carrying party flags and raising slogans ‘Teri Jaan, Meri Jaan, Baijaan Baijaan’ and slogans in support of the demand for restoration of statehood and assembly elections.
“The massive public presence here is the endorsement of our demand that statehood should be restored and J&K state’s position should be restored to what it was before August 5, 2019. These people want me to remind the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of their promises of restoring the statehood,” Bukhari said.
He said that the massive presence of people in the rally was also a message from the people of J&K to the Centre that “we are ready for assembly polls and hold elections at the earliest”.
“The key purpose of organising this huge public gathering is to urge the Centre to restore the statehood to J&K and hold assembly polls without further delay. On this occasion, we want to remind the government that it has committed to restoring J&K’s statehood,” Bukhari said.
He said that the people of J&K have been deeply hurt and feel disempowered due to the occurrence of the August 5, 2019 events.
“To give them some solace this convention demands immediate restoration of statehood that existed till August 5, 2019,” Bukhari said. “We also demand holding assembly polls as soon as possible so that people, who have been rendered politically disempowered, would be able to elect their representatives to run the affairs in J&K. Electing their representatives is people’s right and they should not be deprived of this right anymore. Having an elected government in place will give people a sense of political and administrative empowerment, and this is how democracies work.”
Reiterating his party’s ideology, he said, “Apni Party believes in the politics of truth and integrity. We don’t believe in deceptive politics. We don’t make false promises to the people. We say only what we believe and that we can achieve for them. We have promised people that we will ensure peace, prosperity, and development of J&K, and their political and economic empowerment. We will keep striving to achieve these goals and we know these goals are possible.”
Bukhari said that, unlike traditional political parties, they would never try to allure youngsters through emotional slogans and fake promises.
“The deceptive politics has already taken a toll on our youngsters over the years in terms of landing many of them either in jails or in graveyards. Apni Party wants a peaceful and prosperous future for our youth. I assure you that we will not leave any stone unturned to ensure a promising future for our young population,” he said.
Explaining his vision for the economic prosperity of J&K, he said, “Almighty has given us huge resources to rely on for our economic growth. If Apni Party gets a mandate, we will take initiative to enhance the potential of agriculture, horticulture, and tourism sectors besides boosting the industry here so that we will have more and more job opportunities for the youth.”
Bukhari appealed to Kashmir youth not to fall into the trap of ideologies that instigates violence.
“We have seen enough violence and bloodshed during the past three decades. We can’t afford further destruction and deaths here. Our youth is our asset, and we can’t allow them to fall prey to mindless violence anymore. We can achieve everything important for the better future of the people of J&K through peaceful means. So, I request youngsters to say no to everything that brings misery,” he said.
Bukhari said that Apni Party would form a committee to pursue the cases of the prisoners for their release.
“We have decided that we will form a committee to look into the case of the boys who are behind the bars. We will go to the government to urge their release so that they can live a peaceful and normal life. They should be given a chance even if they have committed some mistakes in the past. We will try to take their parents and the Mohalla elders onboard to ensure these young boys start a normal life with their families once they are free from prisons,” he said.
Bukhari said that Apni Party would strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35-A through courts.
However, he made it clear that no J&K government would have the capacity or power to get these constitutional articles restored.
“Only the Supreme Court has the power to get these abrogated laws restored. Please don’t fall prey to the traditional political parties and their leaders who falsely promise you that they will restore Articles 370 and 35-A once they get elected. They are befooling you for their electoral gains. Earlier, they would come to you with fake promises of getting autonomy and self-rule. Now, they will allure you with the false promises of getting Article 370 restored. Be aware and tell them, ‘Enough is enough,’” Bukhari said.
He reiterated his promise that if the Apni Party comes to power, it would ensure the supply of 500 units of free electricity to the people in Kashmir during winters and the same amount of free electricity to the people in Jammu during summers.
Bukhari said that Apni Party’s government would enhance old age and widow pensions from the existing Rs 1000 to Rs 5000.
He said that Apni Party’s government would also improve facilities and develop infrastructure in the health and education sectors.
Extending gratitude to the participants of the rally, Bukhari said, “I thank you for coming from the far-flung areas and getting assembled here to send out a message that you have trust in the Apni Party’s agenda and its vision for the better future of J&K. This huge convention gives us more strength to strive for a peaceful and prosperous J&K.”
Senior Apni Party leaders Ghulam Hassan Mir, Aijaz Ahmad Khan, Choudhary Zulfikar, Usman Majid, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Rafi Ahmad Mir, Asgar Ali, Hilal Ahmad Shah, Muhammad Ashraf Mir, Vijay Bakaya, Junaid Azim Mattu, Sardar Manjeet Singh, Abdul Majeed Padar, Muntazir Mohiuddin, Farooq Andrabi, Raja Manzoor, Noor Muhammad Sheikh, Abdur Rahim Rather, Ghulam Muhammad Mir, Jagmohan Singh Raina, Nirmal Singh, Javaid Hussain Baig, Raqeek Khan, Dilshada Shaheen, Aftab Malik, Irfan Manhas, Prem Lal, Faqeer Nath, Shafat Kazmi, and Khalid Rathore were also present on the occasion.