All the major political parties of Jammu and Kashmir including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met at the house of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on 15 October. He reiterated his commitment to a secret declaration seeking to restore Article 370 of the Constitution and to make Jammu and Kashmir a Union Territory as before. The meeting took place at a time when PDP Chief Mehbooba was released from house arrest 14 months later. In this respect it was quite important. But, the big issue that came out of the meeting was that the name of this group has now changed to People’s Alliance for Group Declaration.
Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said after Thursday’s meeting that we are fighting our fight within the scope of the Constitution. We want the Government of India to give the rights before the people of the state before 5 August 2019. We also feel that the political issues of this state should be sorted out as soon as possible and this can only be done by talking peacefully among all the people connected with the problem of Jammu and Kashmir.
What is the secret declaration?
About 14 months ago, all political parties of Jammu and Kashmir met in Srinagar on 4 August 2019, a day before the repeal of Section 370. The meeting took place in Faruk Abdullah’s bungalow on Gupkar Road and a joint statement was issued here. They had said that they would continue to fight for the security of Jammu and Kashmir’s identity, autonomy and special status. This was called the secret declaration.
Why did Kashmir parties need it?
The section observing Kashmir in New Delhi feels that the People’s Alliance for Group Declaration is political compulsion. This leader remained in custody for the last year. During this time he did not get any support at the ground level. In such a situation, they want to establish their credibility among the people through this alliance.
Government sources in New Delhi also say that law and order in Kashmir is working broadly. Conflicts over terrorists’ forces have also ended. Because of this, some leaders of Kashmir want to remove the already dead section 370. The fact is that Section 370 is never going to return.
What do the leaders of this new-found alliance want?
Somewhere the regional parties of Kashmir’s main stream are still hoping that Article 370 can return. Those who sign the secret declaration have indicated that this fight will now run in the Supreme Court.
Tanveer Sadiq, former political advisor to former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, says the issue is not that the People’s Alliance is raising a voice against the Center, but rather that all political parties are together. It is trying to achieve peacefully and constitutionally what has been unconstitutional and illegally snatched away from the people of the state.
He says that we are not going to put our arguments before the center. We are preparing to fight in the constitutional way by going to the Supreme Court. We believe that whatever the Center did was illegal, unconstitutional and immoral, it should be changed because of this.
How much support do the leaders of this alliance have?
The brotherhood of Abdullah-Mufti has shocked many. NC and PDP leaders were under house arrest in the last one year. There was no major demonstration nor any lockdown in his support. It is clear that there is no support left for them on the ground.
Junaid Azim Mattoo, who has been close to Omar Abdullah and represented NC several times in TV debates, is also apprehensive about the new group. They have excluded themselves from this group.
Former Srinagar Mayor Junaid has been in both PDP and NC. They say, I believe that the secret declaration is the gilt (guilt) of two parties headed by two families. This ceasefire is his attempt to maintain himself as a dependent. So that they do not expose each other.
Junaid says, “I am also sure that what has been taken from Jammu and Kashmir should be returned. But I also do not believe that Mufti and Abdullah have become saints overnight. Whatever happened before August 2019 But they have to give the answer. They cannot get rid of this situation by taking advantage of it. ‘
Abdullah asks for support from China, what does this mean?
Farooq Abdullah spoke of seeking help from China in restoring Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and it was attacked by the BJP. When Abdullah called all the stakeholders for talks, it was also seen as treason.
The central government feels that if all stakeholders are called for talks, it will increase Pak-supported sentiments. This means that Abdullah and his gang wanted China first and now Pakistan. There is no talk of common people.
What is the future of Jammu and Kashmir?
Experts say that the new politics of Kashmir should not go through the secret. NC, PDP, Congress and even BJP (PDP-BJP alliance) governments have promoted separatism itself. This increased the gap in New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. The policy paralysis also took place.
This time New Delhi is also looking aspirational for political outreach. Efforts are on to introduce a new generation of leadership in the current situation. Preparations are on to create a new generation of leadership in Kashmir. It will also have to be seen that even new plants should not go towards treason. Kashmir has so far had terrible stories of not just deception but also political corruption and double games.
Before the cancellation of article 370, a top minister of the Center had said that it would be necessary to take pre-emptive measures to get rid of the unprecedented situation in Kashmir. Now that measures have been taken, then Kashmir should not be put on the time bomb, whose detonator is in Pakistan. New Delhi should not take a path that does not pass through a secret.
What will happen to the elections in Jammu and Kashmir?
Similarly, elections have not been held in Jammu and Kashmir after the break-up of PDP-BJP government in 2018. Government sources indicate that assembly elections may be held in Jammu and Kashmir soon.
This is the first time assembly elections will be held after repealing Article 370 and granting Union Territory status. These elections can be held in the summer of 2021.