It has now been almost five months since political activities came to a halt in Kashmir. This was symbolized by the modest nature of the recent anniversary function of the National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on December 6. It was yet again indicative of the drastic thinning out of the political activities in Kashmir Valley since withdrawal of Article 370 on August 5. All major Kashmir based parties with a pan-J&K presence like the NC and the PDP have been forced out of the state-turned union territory’s political landscape. And for that matter even the activities of Congress party have come to a stop.
But it is the NC and the PDP and the smaller party like People’s Conference which matter more in Kashmir Valley. Though their workers are free, the parties have chosen not to engage in any political activity or raise a voice against the loss of J&K’s special status under the constitution. The parties are keeping their cards close to their chest.
And with the centre indicating no immediate release of the leaders of these parties which include three former Chief Ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – there is no telling what will be the future course of action of these parties.
For now, the party leaders who are free are not willing to say anything on record. They are waiting for the release of their senior leadership, then only shall they be able to chart a future course of action. The parties also hope that the Supreme Court will overturn the August 5 move, terming it an illegal and unconstitutional move.
In his interviews to media, the National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi has said that his party had faith in the Supreme court. The NC, he said, expects the Supreme Court to be alive to the sensitivity of the matter. He also expects the union government to put its decision on Article 370 on hold because of constitutional propriety. “When the Apex court of the country decides to examine the constitutional validity of a government move, the government should stay the implementation of the move to let the court first decide,” he said.
The parties also indicate they will carry out a political struggle for the restoration of Article 370 but its contours are yet to be decided. The NC leaders say their case is ethical, moral, constitutional and historical, so all options within framework of law and within framework of constitution are expected to be explored. Similarly, the PDP is also waiting for the freedom of its president Mehbooba Mufti before it decides how to politically resist revocation of Article 370. Until then there is a huge suspense over how Kashmir situation will evolve in near to medium term. But this suspense is also creating a lot of uncertainty. So, central government should also take steps to normalize the political situation in the UT.