WHEN six J&K parties issued a joint statement on August 22, it came as a surprise to the people in Kashmir. There was no inkling about any of them meeting to deliberate a joint response to the revocation of Article 370 last year. Perhaps for fear of the administration acting to stop any such a meeting, the parties chose to informally consult one another before issuing the statement. The statement itself makes no bones about what these parties want to say: it unequivocally demands the restoration of J&K’s special status and its reinstatement as a state. Significantly, Congress, a national party, is part of the joint statement, lending it further weight. Also, the statement makes the future politics of J&K subservient to the demand for reversal of the withdrawal of the special status. The parties said “there is nothing about us without,” a slogan that has a pedigree in Poland’s 1505 constitutional legislation that transferred power from the monarch to parliament. The slogan was also used during the disability activism in Europe in 1990s.
This potentially makes the joint statement an abiding part of the future politics in the Valley, if not in parts of Jammu. But for now, the importance of the statement lies beyond what it seeks to achieve: it signals the revival of mainstream politics in Kashmir, a year after all the politicians across the mainstream-separatist divide were detained following the repeal of the region’s special status. In fact, the PDP leader and the former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is still under detention. She has been slapped with yet another Public Safety Act.
The recent past has witnessed stirrings of renewed politics that culminated in the joint statement. Earlier National Conference had organized a meeting of its leaders at the residence of its president Dr Farooq Abdullah. The meeting essentially was held to test the government’s claim before the high court that no National Conference leader was under detention in Kashmir and that they were free to move, subject to necessary security arrangements. National Conference has also been issuing substantive political statements for sometime now. The political activity can thus be expected to gather momentum in near to medium term. More so, if the government chooses to release Mufti. It will also depend on whether the centre chooses to hold election in the union territory or delays it further till some ‘conducive’ time. There is, however, hope in the way the local politics is tentatively hurtling to the foreground again. This is needed to fill in the political vacuum that has developed in the region over the last year.
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