Srinagar: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Wednesday reiterated their commitment to their cause and expressed a willingness to hold dialogue with New Delhi regarding the political impasse in the region.
The PAGD leaders met after six months of inactivity at the Gupkar road residence of chairman Farooq Abdullah for over an hour. The leaders discussed the situation at hand amid speculation surrounding major political moves.
“We have not closed any door for engagement if they (New Delhi) will invite us. Our options aren’t closed...we will do whatever is good for the people,” Abdullah said after the meeting was over.
The PAGD leader, however, said they not been asked or informed about the ongoing speculation surrounding statehood for Jammu division alone and the creation of a separate division for parts of south Kashmir.
Abdullah added that he will not resign as a Member of Parliament in case any unfavourable decision was taken for the region. "I will not quit. I will fight for my people in the Parliament,” he said.
The meeting was attended by PDPs (Peoples Democratic Party) Mehbooba Mufti, Muzaffar Shah of Awami National Conference (ANC), Javid Mustafa Mir, Mehboob Beg, National Conference MP Hasnain Massoodi and M.Y. Tarigami of the CPI(M), who was designated as the new spokesperson of the alliance.
"We will not leave any stone unturned for the betterment of the people. We will use every opportunity for the people's welfare,” Tarigami was quoted saying.
The group's chairman also pointed out the use of excessive force by the police in arrresting Kashmiri youth, which, Abdullah added, has been increasing “pressure” in Kashmir. The octogenarian appealed to the Lt. Governor to stop these detentions and cautioned against them, saying: “People will become so against them that they will not be able to handle it.”
The leaders of seven political parties and the Congress met for the first time on August 4, 2019, a day before all the politicians were arrested in view of the New Delhi’s unilateral decision to revoke Article 370. The Congress party and many other leaders like Muzaffar Beigh then gradually distanced themselves from the group.
A year later, after the release of the majority of politicians, the amalgam, which was formed loosely, signed a declaration on August 22, 2020 expressing its renewed commitment to the pre-August 5 situation.
Months later, the group – seen as a major development since the abrogation of Article 370 – fought the District Development Council (DDC) elections – contrary to their position of non-acceptance of changes made in August 2019.
The alliance formation hit a major roadblock after the DDC polls were held in the region. One of its constituents, the People’s Conference (JKPC) led by Sajad Lone, alleged the alliance – fighting the polls on a seat sharing basis – fielded proxies against its own candidates. Lone pulled out of the alliance but claimed he supported the group’s objectives regarding the restoration of the pre-August 5 position.
Many had speculated about the alliance’s gradual demise since but the PAGD leaders added that they were committed to the amalgam. As the PAGD is revived a meeting of its members is expected with New Delhi, which many speculate is likely to happen soon.
The Wednesday meeting also comes at a time when the delimitation process is ongoing, something that has increased apprehensions within the regional political parties as the rejig could threaten their traditional strongholds.
With the fresh development it remains to be seen how the amalgam will fight in the UT assembly elections – yet to be announced – considering each constituent party would be keen to retain its previous strongholds.