Hardening its stance vis à vis the Centre ahead of the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, the Gupkar alliance dubbed ‘Naya Kashmir’ as a joke.
Hardening its stance vis à vis the Centre ahead of the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration described BJP’s ‘Naya Kashmir’ slogan as a “joke”. In a statement issued by PAGD spokesperson MY Tarigami on Wednesday, it was reiterated that the Union government had perpetrated an “unprecedented assault” on the Constitution thereby “damaging” Jammu and Kashmir’s bond with India. The PAGD lamented that J&K was divided into two Union Territories without the consent of people, a precedent which it asserted was a substantial step towards a “unitary state”.
Moreover, the alliance opined, “The abrogation of Article 35 A made the status of permanent residents redundant. Protection of Jobs and land rights was removed arbitrarily which deepened the alienation and sense of insecurity in all the regions. The economy of J&K has virtually collapsed as tourism, trade, agriculture, horticulture and Handicraft sectors were badly hit. Employment opportunities are shrinking. Is corruption any less and Governance any better? The fact remains not a single claim stands the test of the scrutiny.”
In a veiled reference to the arrest of mainstream political leaders after the revocation of J&K’s special status, it claimed that “unconscionable suppression of civil and democratic rights continues unabated”. The PAGD also condemned the recent order which states that those involved in ‘law and order and stone-pelting cases’ will not get clearance for passport and government services. Maintaining that ‘adverse police report’ cannot be a substitute for a court verdict, it lamented that the dissonance between the Centre and J&K is deepening despite PM Modi’s meeting with key political leaders.
The PAGD added, “The hoax of BJP,s Naya Kashmir is a joke now. The people have started questioning those in authority as what they have achieved by destroying the Naya Kashmir which came into being through protracted historic struggle of the people of Jammu & Kashmir”. Appealing to the people not to fall prey to attempts at division, it exuded confidence in continuing the struggle through “peaceful and legal means”.
PAGD formation & electoral plunge
The Gupkar Declaration was a resolution passed by NC, PDP, Congress, CPI(M), JKPC and ANC on August 4, 2019, pledging to protect the “identity, autonomy and special status” of J&K. However, a presidential notification along with the passage of requisite legislation in both Houses of Parliament resulted in Article 370 becoming virtually redundant. Simultaneously, key leaders including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti were detained.
When the Gupkar signatories met on October 15, 2020, after the release of Mehbooba Mufti, they declared the formation of the PAGD. While it tasted electoral success in the District Development Council polls by emerging as the single-largest coalition with 110 seats, BJP too made inroads in the Union Territory by becoming the single-largest party with 75 seats. The PAGD’s constituents- NC, PDP, JKPC, CPI(M), and JKPM bagged 67, 27, 8, 5, and three seats respectively. However, the opposition unity proved to be short-lived as the Sajad Lone-led party pulled out of the alliance on January 19.
In a sign of reconciliation with the Centre, multiple PAGD leaders such as NC president Farooq Abdullah, NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, CPI(M) leader MY Tarigami along with others attended a meeting with the PM on June 24. These leaders shared their views on giving a further fillip to the democratic process in J&K. On this occasion, the Centre made it clear that delimitation and peaceful Assembly polls will be “important milestones” in restoring statehood as promised in the Parliament.