Srinagar: Days after former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was released from 14 month-long detention, members of various political parties, including Mufti, met at the residence of senior National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah carrying forward the resolution under the Gupkar declaration to get back the J&K’s special status. The declaration was signed a day before Article 370 was revoked on August 5 last year.
After the meeting concluded on Thursday, the coming together of parties to oppose last year’s move by the Centre was named as People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.
“Our battle is a constitutional battle, we want the government of India to return to the people of the State the rights they held before August 5 2019,” NC president Abdullah, who chaired the meeting, said.
The meeting was attended by signatories of the Gupkar Declaration, including several regional mainstream political leaders like People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone, CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, ANC vice-president Muzaffar Ahmad Shah and JKPM leader Javaid Mustafa Mir.
The declaration was also endorsed by Congress chief GA Mir, also a signatory to the declaration. He, however, could not attend the meeting citing COVID-19 reasons.
The meeting was called by Farooq and his son Omar Abdullah after Mehbooba’s release, an invitation PDP leader accepted.
Thursday’s meeting is considered as a major political development in the region since August last year as all mainstream politicians were detained as a measure to prevent any opposition to the Central government’s unilateral decision to abrogate Article 370.
Many leaders were gradually released after months of detention in a “phased manner” but the political activity in the region was brought into a grinding halt owing to the large-scale detentions and in view of the fear of reprisals.
“It is an important development. The ideological consensus was already there. Today it was given a formal shape. We hope it helps translating our resolve of collective fight for our right,” PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari told NewsClick.
The leaders said that future politics will be built on Thursday’s meeting and people will be informed as further plans will be formulated.
On August 22, the signatories had issued a joint statement reiterating their commitment to the resolution. “We all reiterate that we are bound, wholly, by the contents of Gupkar Declaration and will unwaveringly adhere to it,” the joint statement read.
The leaders added that they were committed to “strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J&K and the restoration of the State” and that any division of the Jammu and Kashmir is “unacceptable” to them. Mehbooba Mufti, who was still in detention back then, expressed her support to the joint declaration through a phone call to Farooq Abdullah.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, led by former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari, have maintained their distance from the Gupkar signatories. While BJP maintain its support to the abrogation, the Apni Party has been vocal about restoration of statehood to the J&K, something BJP is comfortable doing politics on.
Even as Bukhari’s Apni Party was deemed to play its part in post-August 5 Kashmir as king party, it is the NC, led by Farooq, which is spearheading the developments that are shaping a new political landscape in the region.