Srinagar: In a major development in Jammu and Kashmir politics, four main regional parties and two national parties — the Congress and CPI(M) — Saturday issued a joint statement, saying they would “tirelessly struggle to get back the special status and restore the Constitutional guarantees forcibly taken away from J&K”.
The six political parties, including the National Conference (NC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference, Awami National Conference, said they stood by the Gupkar Declaration, which was issued last August.
The parties stated that all political activities in the region will now be subservient to the “sacred goal of reverting to the special status of J&K as it existed on 4th August 2019”.
A source told ThePrint that the decision was a result of a series of consultations and meetings that have taken place over the last month.
The last meeting, the source said, took place at the residence of NC MP Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi Thursday, where it was decided that the Gupkar Declaration will be the cornerstone of J&K’s future politics.
A day before the Modi government scrapped Article 370 on 5 August last year, all major political parties had met at former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah’s Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar, and vowed to protect the special status of the state. It was then that the parties had signed and issued the ‘Gupkar Declaration’.
Masoodi, however, denied that the meeting took place at his residence and said Saturday’s decision was a result of a series of meetings and discussions that have happened after regional political leaders were freed from detention they were subjected to since last August.
Among the signatories of the joint statement were NC president and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah, former J&K CM and president of Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti — who is still under detention — J&K Congress chief G.A.Mir, CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami, Peoples Conference Chief Sajad Gani Lone and head of Awami National Conference Muzaffar Shah.
All of them were also among the signatories of the Gupkar Declaration.
The joint statement, which has made the return of J&K’s special status a primary demand, gains further significance given that the central government and the BJP were hoping that the regional parties would move past the issue of Article 370 and resume normal political activities, something which the party’s general secretary Ram Madhav had said earlier.
‘Appeal for unstinted support to our just cause’
The joint statement stated that the signatories to the Gupkar Declaration “barely managed to establish a basic level of communication with each other in the face of a series of prohibitive and punitive curbs imposed by the government, aimed at impeding all social and political interactions”.
“The limited confabulations held within the constraints imposed have resulted in this unanimous resolution,” read the statement, which also indicated the formation of an umbrella grouping against the Centre’s Article 370 move.
“The series of measures undertaken on 5 August 2019 were grossly unconstitutional and in reality measures of disempowerment and a challenge to the basic identity of the people of J&K. The measures attempt to redefine who we are. These changes were accompanied by repressive measures meant to silence people and coerce them into submission, and continue unabated,” the statement said.
“These are testing times and times of pain for the peace loving people of J&K. We all reiterate our commitment to collectively fight to restore the special status of J&K as guaranteed under the Constitution and the commitments made from time to time. There is unanimity among us that collective institutions are the effective way to fight for these rights and tirelessly struggle to get back the special status and restore the Constitutional guarantees forcibly taken away, against our will.”
The signatories also expressed gratitude to “the people of India, the political parties, the intelligentsia and other civil society groups” for opposing the “unconstitutional measures of 5 August 2019 and ever since standing with the people of J&K in this crisis”.
“We appeal for their unstinted support to our just cause till the unconstitutional measures of 5 August 2019 are undone and the special status of J&K restored,” the signatories stated.
‘There can be nothing about us without us’
The statement further read: “We exhort leadership of the subcontinent to take due notice of the ever increasing skirmishes at the LAC and LoC resulting in casualties on both sides and unabated violent incidents in J&K and work for enduring peace in the region.
“We all reiterate that we are bound, wholly, by the contents of the Gupkar Declaration and will unwaveringly adhere to it. We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J&K 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,” concluded the statement by the six political parties.