Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Chairperson Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said that political parties in the region were not puppets of “New Delhi or anyone across the border”, PTI reported. Abdullah’s retort came in response to Pakistan’s praise for the decision of six political parties to fight collectively against the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

“Pakistan has always abused mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir but now suddenly they like us,” Abdullah told PTI. “Let me make it clear that we are not anyone’s puppets, neither New Delhi’s nor of anyone across the border. We are answerable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and will work for them.”

Six political parties, including the National Conference, Congress, and the Peoples Democratic Party had on August 22 issued a statement titled “Gupkar Declaration-II” and promised to fight against the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The parties 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.

Abdullah was referring to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement from earlier this week, in which he said that the declaration issued by the parties was “not an ordinary occurrence but an important development”.

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Abdullah also hit out at Pakistan for sponsoring cross-border terrorism. “I would urge Pakistan to stop sending armed men into Kashmir,” he said. “We want an end to the bloodshed in our state. All political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are committed to fight for our rights peacefully, including for what was unconstitutionally snatched away from us on August 5 last year”.

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 Centre’s decision to scrap the region’s special status. 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.

The government had also imposed a ban on internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. On August 11, the Centre, however, agreed to restore high-speed 4G internet services on a trial basis in one district each of Jammu and Kashmir for two months.