Jammu and Kashmir parties said they will abide by the “Gupkar Declaration” of August 4, 2019 when they esolved to protect the state’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it.
Just over a year after the centre revoked special constitutional rights granted to Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two union territories, its main regional parties have formally joined hands to fight against the move in a significant political shift away from long-standing rivalries.
In a joint statement, the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Congress and Awami National Conference have said that the August 5, 2019 decision of the centre has changed the relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi. They vowed to fight collectively for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status as guaranteed by the constitution under Article 370.
The statement said that all parties will abide by the “Gupkar Declaration” of August 4, 2019 in which regional parties and the Congress resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it.
The Congress, however, already seemed to be having second thoughts. “Our representative had signed Gupkar declaration last year. A lot has changed since then. We are for restoration of statehood to J&K but on abrogation of 370, we should wait for Supreme Court verdict rather than forging any political entente,” said GA Mir, state Congress chief. “Dr Farooq Abdullah spoke to me a few days back but I have not signed the statement,” he said.
According to sources, the political understanding among regional parties and the joint statement was managed with secrecy and a degree of precision. For the last four days, all the leaders talked to each other and some have managed to meet as well.
“Yesterday, draft was framed and circulated among leaders. It was approved by all leaders,” said a senior political leader. “Delhi establishment managed to do which no one could have done in Kashmir. Our party politics is in a suspended animation and our collective goal will be to fight for restoration of constitution,” he said.
In a tweet, Mehbooba Mufti who is still under detention under the Public Safety Act, has praised her long-time rival Farooq Abdullah for ensuring political unity in Kashmir to fight for its rights.
“Ms Mufti appreciates the statesmanship shown by Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab in forging a collective response to Delhi’s onslaught on J&K’s special status. It’s time we forego and stand together,” it said.
Sajjad Lone also put his weight firmly behind the new arrangement. He tweeted: “A very satisfying day. We firmly believe that a collective mechanism is the only way out. It is no longer about power. It is about a struggle to get back what rightfully belongs to us. Thanks Dr Farooq sahib Mehbooba Ji and Tarigami sahib.”
The centre had revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special rights, like the ability to enact its own laws, last year in August by scrapping provisions of Article 370 of the constitution and divided the state into two centrally-governed union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The move was accompanied with a strong security crackdown, the world’s longest internet shutdown in a democratic country and the detention of hundreds of political leaders including three former Chief Ministers in an effort to curb a backlash.
Here is the full text of the joint statement:
The unfortunate events of 5th August 2019 have 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 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.
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 amongst us 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. 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.
While 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, we appeal 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 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”.