Six political parties including the National Conference, Congress, and the Peoples Democratic Party, on Saturday vowed to fight collectively against the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Greater Kashmir reported. The parties, in a joint statement, described the Centre’s decision to alter the region’s status under Article 370 of the Constitution as “grossly unconstitutional” and a “measure to disempower” people of the former state.
“The measures attempt to redefine who we are,” the parties said in a statement titled “Gupkar Declaration-II”. “These changes were accompanied by repressive measures meant to silence people and coerce them into submission, and continue unabated. We all reiterate our commitment to collectively fight to restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir as guaranteed under the Constitution and the commitments made from time to time.”
The parties claimed that the Narendra Modi government’s decisions related to the region on August 5 last year had “unrecognisably changed the relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi”. The political leaders also cited difficulties in establishing “basic level of communication” after they signed the Gupkar Declaration-I on August 4 last year.
“We all reiterate that we are bound, wholly, by the contents of the Gupkar Declaration and will unwaveringly adhere to it,” the statement added. “We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the restoration of the state and any division of the state is unacceptable to us. We unanimously reiterate that there can be ‘nothing about us without us’.
Under the Gupkar declaration, regional parties and the Congress resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it.
The statement also urged the “leadership of the subcontinent” to take note of increasing altercations at the Line of Actual Control and Line of Control that has led to casualties on both sides. The leaders were referring to the clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the Galwan Valley on June 15, during which, 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed.
After the meeting, a few Kashmiri politicians supported the declaration. “Ms [Mehbooba] Mufti appreciates the statesmanship shown by Dr Farooq sahab in forging a collective response to Delhi’s onslaught on Jammu and Kashmir’s special status,” a tweet on the former chief minister’s official Twitter account said. “It’s time we forego political differences and stand together.”
People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone said it was a “very satisfying day”. “We firmly believe that a collective mechanism is the only way out,” he tweeted. “It is no longer about power. It is about a struggle to get back what rightfully belongs to us. Thanks Dr Farooq sahib, Mehbooba ji, and [CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf] Tarigami sahib.”
Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – were put under house arrest before the August 5 decision. Omar Abdullah was released seven months later on March 24 as the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked his detention order under the Public Safety Act. Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13 but Mufti remains in detention. Lone was formally released on July 31.