Resurrection of Gupkar Declaration

B L Saraf
It is a global climate change of different order that is unfolding in Kashmir . Once set in there, Jammu can’t remain unaffected. With better part of the summer already gone and an ensuing transition from autumn to a cold winter to be soon set upon the residents , Valley is currently witnessing a defreeze and stirring of sorts in the politics. Although harsh winters of Kashmir are known to have powers to stop the life in its tracks, the release of political leaders of all hues (barring Mehbooba Mufti) in the recent days and their gathering on a single platform is, however, an indication that coming winter in Kashmir will see a warmed up political activity. Only if the COVID -19 doesn’t play a spoil sport and turn it to a depressing and lifeless landscape.
After more than a year of ‘forced’ break engineered by lock -ins and the lock- downs a political activity of sorts is visible in Kashmir. It is on the move, though at snail’s pace. On a rather cautious note the Valley specific political leaders are back to work. It is a welcome development and, undoubtedly , a good omen for the health of democracy . It started with Dr Farooq Abdullah, the NC president, meeting with sixteen party leaders at his Gupkar residence . After meeting these leaders Dr Abdullah told media persons “these meetings will be first step to reassure that the leaders able to travel to my residence have been set free in the true sense .” Muzaffar Hussain Beg the PDP patron too, wanted to interact with party leaders but couldn’t succeed; as , according to him , the authorities didn’t allow their movement.
Next day, leaders of NC, Congress, PDP, PC, CPI (M) and ANC met at Farooq’s residence in Srinagar and passed a joint resolution demanding restoration of Articles 370 and 35 A. They rejected state’s division and sought restoration of Statehood . M .H . Beg has also endorsed the resolution . These leaders said that they were bound by the previous year’s resolution (known as Gupkar Declaration) and swore an ” unwavering adherence ” to it. The joint statement ended in a flowery prose “We unanimously reiterate that there can be nothing about us without us.” The parties had passed the Gupkar Declaration on August 4 last year, a day before the Government of India scrapped J& K’s special constitutional status. We hope these leaders remain true to the phraseology. We are constrained to have this prayer because some were found missing in this conclave who played essential role in drafting the Gupkar Declaration, last year. So , these leaders must be on guard to check that ‘something without them ‘ may not materialize.
It will be interesting to watch how the renewed political activism of Abdullah and company will pan out in Kashmir and some areas in Jammu Division. It may be pointed out that Jammu based political parties, like NPP etc, have also been on the job to mobilize public opinion against what they call the culture of one party hegemony and stifling of a dissent. It is interesting to note that a demand for restoration of statehood and revival of State Assembly is coming even from BJP. It is a statement of fact that J &K is suffering a suffocating political atmosphere. Political space has shrunk even for the nationalist leaders of ‘ other view.’ Only one dimensional discourse is being trumpeted .
The emergence of other view in the Valley – very much a nationalistic one – is indeed need of the hour. People within the UT and across Lakhanpur must be made familiar with it, as it will encourage an unbiased dissemination of the information as to what is happening in Kashmir. It is not good for the nation to believe in omission of facts and peddling out a one sided story just to sway public opinion in a guided direction. Gupkar Declaration is by no means an anti-national document It is indeed an articulation of what many nationalists in the UT and mainland believe in. Remember, the authors of the Declaration are time tested Indians : many of whom have pleaded well India’s cause and thwarted Pakistan at the international platforms when game came to the crunch.
Restoration of special status for J &K may be a far cry at the moment but there are endless issues which trouble people . Lack of development , growing unemployment , non availability of basic infrastructure and unstable security scenario pose a serious challenge to the life of a common man in the UT ,as they did prior to August the 5th, 2019. There has been no change on the ground . The internally displaced persons remain there where they were in May 2014. It is a huge challenge for them to have access to a bare minimum which is required to keep them alive with some degree of respect .
Is it that governing dispensation in Delhi is in a mood to concede some space to the ‘other view? Many think it is so. Otherwise Farooq Abdullah would not get so much leeway as to gather politicians and appear on national TV channels to project an idea which is not to the liking of many in the ruling BJP . It seems to be in departure of how earlier the Government would react to such a venture, when in a bid to manage headlines and protect the narrative, BJP lead Central Government wouldn’t easily allow political space to ‘other’ political actors in the Valley . For it one nation meant one preferred political narrative. This belief is held very dear in J&K. Well, if it so as many believe one has to welcome the change in mood . While as it is understandable that space has to be squeezed for the undesirable elements who are bent to foment violence, it can’t be denied to those who swore to the Indian constitution and continue to have allegiance to it .
P .S – Are Central agencies up to their old tricks, again, which they have often been playing in J&K with regular intervals? Do we smell new experimentation? Has Apni Party bubble busted before it could float? Has the experiment come cropper? Well, true to the time tested (but flawed) practice, for sure, we won’t get answer to these questions.
(The author is former Principal District and Sessions Judge)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here