Our fight not against nation, but BJP, says Dr Abdullah

Members of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration at a press conference at Gupkar in Srinagar on Saturday. - Excelsior/Shakeel
Members of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration at a press conference at Gupkar in Srinagar on Saturday. - Excelsior/Shakeel

Farooq heads Alliance, Mehbooba vice chairperson

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Oct 24: Seven mainstream parties of Jammu and Kashmir today gave a formal shape to their recently cobbled alliance for the restoration of Article 370, electing National Conference’s Dr Farooq Abdullah as its chairman and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti as vice-chairperson, and asserted that theirs was “not an anti-national” grouping but against the BJP and it’s divisive politics.

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Veteran CPM leader M Y Tarigami was elected as the convenor while Lok Sabha member from South Kashmir Hasnain Masoodi would be the coordinator of the conglomerate known as Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).
Sajjad Gani Lone of People’s Conference would be the spokesman for the amalgam.
After a meeting held at Mehbooba’s house, Abdullah, who turned 84 earlier this week, said the alliance is fighting for the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and is an “anti-BJP platform” and not an anti-national amalgam.
“We have nothing against the nation. It’s not a fight against the nation. It’s a fight against the BJP and its divisive politics. We are against steps to weaken the Constitutional structure of the Federation. Our fight is for the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and is not religion specific as is being propagated. We have promised and are committed to regional autonomy for Jammu region and other regions in J&K,” Dr Abdullah said.
Prior to this, eight leaders of National Conference from Jammu also met Dr Abdullah at his residence. They include Devender Singh Rana, provincial president, Surjit Singh Slathia, Ajay Sadhotra, Javed Rana, Rattan Lal Gupta, Tarlochan Singh Wazir, Mushtaq Bukhari and Sajjad Kitchloo.
Dr Abdullah alleged that the BJP has tried to break the federal structure through acts like the abrogation of Article 370 and dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
“They have tried to destroy the Constitution of the country, they have tried to divide the nation, to break the federal structure which we saw what they did on August 5 last year,” the NC president said.
Dr Abdullah said the BJP was doing propaganda against the constituents of the PAGD in Jammu and elsewhere in the country.
“They are trying to divide us (people of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh) in the name of religion. This attempt will not succeed. This is not a religious battle, this is a fight for our identity, and for that identity, we are standing together,” he said.
The amalgam, which met for the first time after its formation, will come out with a white paper within one month on governance in Jammu and Kashmir over the past one year since the abrogation of Article 370, Lone told reporters after the meeting.
“The white paper will not be rhetoric. It will be based on facts and figures to present the reality to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and around the country…. An impression is being given that all the corruption had happened in Jammu and Kashmir,” Lone said.
The amalgam decided to hold its next meeting after a fortnight in Jammu, followed by a convention in Srinagar on November 17.
As a mark of defiance to the Constitutional changes made by the Centre with respect to Jammu and Kashmir last year, the alliance adopted the flag of the erstwhile state as its symbol.
The meeting was attended by Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Gani Lone, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Muzaffar Shah, Javed Mustafa Mir and Hasnain Masoodi.
While the Communist Party of India’s Kashmir head A R Trukroo joined the PAGD, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee has quietly distanced itself from the alliance.
JKPCC chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who was part of the meetings that took place before the formalisation of PAGD earlier this month, has skipped the last two meetings.
The JKPCC had issued a statement after the previous meeting that Mir could not attend due to the advice of doctors.
This time the party did not explain its absence from the meeting.