Former Peoples Democratic Party leader Syed Altaf Bukhari on Sunday launched a new political party called the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, ANI reported.
“We have resolved to create a viable political platform that functions in accordance with the wishes of the people and where people are at real stakeholders of the political process,” Bukhari said during the party’s launch. “We, the subscribers to this declaration, hereby constitute and form a political party under the name of Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party.”
Bukhari said the party will work to see that the region’s identity is preserved, and will uphold the rights of the people. He added that the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party will work towards the “dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits” and for the empowerment of youth and women.
“This party is not floated by a family and there will be total restriction that anybody who becomes president of party cannot be elected more than two times,” Bukhari added. “It is by the commoners, for the commoners, of the commoners.”
The party will reportedly include 30 members, including 22 to 23 former legislators from various political parties such as the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP, the National Conference led by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, the Congress and Democratic Party Nationalist, according to The Times of India.
“After August 5, a lot has changed,” Bukhari told ANI. “People are in despair, tourism is reduced to zero and local industries have closed down. In that view, challenges are very huge. It is an endeavour to see how we can restore the semblance of these things.”
Jammu and Kashmir has been in partial lockdown since August 5, when the Centre revoked the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. There has been a gradual ease on communication restrictions, however, high-speed 3G and 4G continue to be banned. On February 25, the region gained access to only 1,674 websites. The ban on social media was revoked on March 4, nearly seven months after restrictions were imposed.
Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled for March, were postponed on February 18 because of concerns about the law-and-order situation in the Union Territory. Elections for almost 13,000 vacant seats were expected to be conducted in eight phases between March 5 and March 20.