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Farooq Abdullah to lead Gupkar alliance

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, centre, and Mehbooba Mufti (third from right) and other leaders of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration interact with the media in Srinagar on October 24, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Seven mainstream parties of Jammu and Kashmir on October 24 gave formal shape to their recently cobbled alliance for the restoration of Article 370, electing National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah as its chairman and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti as vice-chairperson and asserted that theirs was “not an anti-national” grouping.

Veteran CPM leader M.Y. Tarigami was elected the convenor while Lok Sabha member from South Kashmir Hasnain Masoodi will be the coordinator of the conglomerate known as Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

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Sajjad Gani Lone of People’s Conference would be the spokesman for the amalgam.

After a meeting held at Ms. Mufti’s house, Mr. Farooq 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.

“I want to tell you that this is false propaganda by the BJP that the PAGD is anti-national. I want to tell them that this is not true. There is no doubt that it is anti-BJP, but it is not anti-national,” he told reporters in Srinagar.

Mr. Farooq 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.

‘BJP’s false propaganda’

“I want to tell them that this [PAGD] is not an anti-national jamaat. Our aim is that the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh should get their rights back. That’s where our battle is. Our battle is not for more than that,” he said.

Also read | Restore Kashmir's flag: Mehbooba Mufti

Stating that the BJP was doing propaganda against the constituents of the PAGD in Jammu and elsewhere in the country, the NC leader said, “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, going into the governance in Jammu and Kashmir over the past one year, Mr. 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,” Mr. Lone said.

The amalgam decided to hold its next meeting after a fortnight in Jammu, followed by a convention in Srinagar on November 17. The alliance adopted the flag of the erstwhile State as its symbol.

While the Communist Party of India’s Kashmir head A.R. Trukroo joined the PAGD, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee appears to have quietly distanced itself from the alliance.

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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 Mr. Mir could not attend due to the advice of doctors.

BJP warning

Reacting to the announcements, Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina said, “Conspiracies of the Gupkar Gang” would not be tolerated and anyone challenging the unity and integrity of the country would be jailed.

He also announced that October 26 will be celebrated as ‘accession day’ to send a clear message that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.

Also read | BJP demands Mehbooba Mufti’s arrest for her statement on national flag

“We will celebrate October 26, the day when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession, as ‘Villai Diwas’ like Diwali and freedom celebration,” the BJP leader asserted. 

Hitting out at PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, the BJP leader said those feeling troubled and insecure in India should go to Pakistan as J&K is not their fiefdom. He asserted that no power on earth can restore Article 370 and the flag of the erstwhile State. 

“This time we have Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and those conspiring against the country will not be forgiven. We will give our blood and our lives for our motherland and the tricolour,” Mr. Raina, holding the national flag in his hand, told reporters in Jammu. 

Responding to the PDP chief’s statement that she would only hold the tricolour when the flag of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir is restored, the BJP leader said only the national flag will flutter in the Union territory.

Also read | Home Ministry pulls out original instrument of accession to support Article 370 move

Referring to the National Conference and PDP leaders, he claimed that when they are in power, they praise India, but when out of power, they remember Pakistan and China. 

“They will not be allowed to take forward an anti-India agenda. Let them try, this Gupkar Gang is getting strengthened from six parties to 600, we will not allow them to fulfil their dreams. They are a bunch of power-hungry people and the people of Jammu and Kashmir know them very well...,” Mr. Raina said. 

“What if Mehbooba does not hold the tricolour in her hand, there are crores of people in Jammu and Kashmir who love and respect the national flag from the core of their hearts,” he said, adding that his party would celebrate ‘accession day’ on October 26 by hoisting the tricolour and taking out rallies to send a strong message. 

“... any leader who is found conspiring against the country will pay a heavy price. They cannot save themselves and Tihar jail is waiting for them,” he added. 

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 8:23:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/farooq-abdullah-named-chairman-of-peoples-alliance-for-gupkar-declaration-mehbooba-mufti-to-be-deputy/article32936487.ece

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