August 5 Changed J&K’s Relationship With Delhi: Kashmir Parties 

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NC President Farooq Abdullah addresses a press conference after holding a meeting with party leaders. KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: A year after Modi-led Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) government scrapped Article-370 and 35-A and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the signatories of last year’s ‘Gupkar Declaration’ on Saturday vowed to fight for restoration of special status to the erstwhile state.

A joint statement issued and signed by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, J-K Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Peoples’ Conference leader Sajjad Lone, state CPM leader M Y Tarigami and Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference senior vice-president Muzaffar Shah termed the August 5 events as unfortunate and said it has “unrecognizably changed the relationship between J-K and New Delhi”.

“In a spitefully shortsighted and unconstitutional move, Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated and the State was bifurcated and relegated to the status of two Union Territories and its Constitution tried to be made unenforceable,” the joint statement said.

The joint statement on ‘Gupkar Declaration’ comes over two weeks after NC patron unsuccessfully tried to hold all party meet at his Sonwar residence on August 5 anniversary to chalk out future political strategy.

Unionist parties issued ‘Gupkar Declaration’ after their meeting on the eve of August 5, 2019 at Farooq Abdullah’s Gupkar residence.

Slamming the government over the August 5 move, the joint statement said that the series of measures undertaken on 5th 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 signatories said.

Reiterating their 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, the mainstream leaders said that these were testing times and times of pain for the peace-loving people of J-K.

“There is unanimity amongst the political leaders that collective institution is 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 joint statement said.

“We want to assure the people that all our political activities will be subservient to the sacred goal of reverting to the status of J-K as it existed on 4th August 2019,” it added.

Expressing gratitude to the people of India, the political parties, the intelligentsia and other civil society groups for opposing the unconstitutional measures of 5th August 2019 and ever since standing with the people of J-K in this crises, the joint statement urged for their unstinted support to “our just cause till the unconstitutional measures of 5th August 2019 are undone and the special status of J-K restored,”

“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,” the joint statement added.

Voicing concern over the hostilities between India and Pakistan, the joint statement urged 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.

The joint statement also said that the signatories to the ‘Gupkar Declaration’ have barely managed to establish 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,” the statement added.

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