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No Freedom or Civil Liberty in Kashmir, says PAGD; Concerns Rise Over 'New' Voter List

Anees Zargar |
The PAGD’s concerns come on a day when the Lt. Governor-led administration sacked five employees under Article 311 of the Constitution of India for alleged involvement in “anti-national” activities.
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Srinagar: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of regional political parties, on Saturday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in New Delhi had left the people of Jammu and Kashmir high and dry by choking breathing spaces.

“After taking away the constitutional right of Article 370, other means of survival are also being choked gradually. There is no civil liberty, freedom of press or freedom of speech that are under assault while police stations and jails are being filled with innocent people,” PAGD spokesperson M Y Tarigami told reporters in Srinagar.

The members of the PAGD, including former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Muzaffar Shah of the Awami National Conference (ANC) and other National Conference leaders, met at the Gupkar residence of Dr Farooq Abdullah following which the grouping, formed to advocate the restoration of pre-August status of J&K, lashed out at the BJP for pushing the region into ‘deterioration’. 

Tarigami said that the alliance leaders discussed the present political scenario following which it expressed concern over what they termed as “fast deteriorating situation in Kashmir as well Jammu.” The PAGD spokesperson also called for the unity amongst the people to put a united stand against the incursions being carried out by BJP and also urged people and the political parties to raise a collective voice against the “present onslaught of New Delhi on people here. He also argued that “silence of intelligentsia” across the country was damaging not only for J&K but for the whole country.

Tarigami, a CPI(M) leader, also added that many in the Valley were being jailed by the authorities which has caused concerns amongst their parents often seen waiting outside police stations. “So many people are being arrested that the jails have no capacity anymore. Outside jails have now no capacity given the number of people being jailed from Kashmir,” he alleged.

“These ministers are coming to ensure suppression is tightened further and whosoever raises a voice is put behind bars,” he said.

PAGD president and NC leader Farooq Abdullah also lashed out at BJP for not fulfilling its promise of providing jobs to the youth. “Where are those 50,000 jobs that were promised. The situation is grim as the number of unemployed youth is rising,” he said.

Saturday’s meeting comes in the midst of concerns about the ongoing revision of electoral rolls as authorities made way for non-locals to register as voters, something that the parties have opposed. The regional parties, including from the PAGD, on October 8 formed a 14-member joint committee against the move.

The parties expressed their wariness about the move terming it as “manipulation” in the electoral process that the PAGD reiterated in today’s brief. "In the name of the electoral revision, there is manipulation going on. One day the administrative official Jammu issues an order and the next day this order is cancelled verbally. It is a kind of Jungle Raj going on here," Tarigami added.

The PAGD’s concerns over diminishing liberties come at a time when the Lt. Governor-led administration sacked five employees under Article 311 of the Constitution of India for their alleged involvement in “anti-national” activities. This is the third such dismissal of government employees since March this year in which a group of individuals were sacked for their alleged links to militancy, a charge that most of them have denied.

The sacked employees are Tanveer Saleem Dar, a constable in Auxiliary Wing of J&K Police, Syed Iftikhar Andrabi, a Village Level Worker in the Rural Development Department (Panchayat Secretary), Irshad Ahmad Khan, Orderly cum Chowkidar in Jal Shakti Department, Baramulla and Afaq Ahmad Wani, Manager, Baramulla Central Cooperative Bank Ltd. and Abdul Momin Peer, Assistant lineman, PHE Sub Division Handawra. 

Since last year, more than 40 employees have been sacked under the same provision. This comes a day after 36 policemen were forced to retire prematurely for allegedly being involved in “corruption, criminal and anti-national activities.”

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