J&K Apni Party chairman Altaf Bukhari on Friday took potshots at former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and pledged to put pressure on the Centre to restore statehood to the Union Territory ahead of the Assembly elections.
“Azad sahib may have defended Article 370 inside the Parliament on August 5, 2019, delivered emotional speech, cursed to the extent he was allowed and even torn some buttons of his shirt but the fact is Azad sahib voted for the removal of Article 370 along with the BJP,” Mr. Bukhari alleged, during a press conference.
He accused Mr. Azad, who is mulling to launch a new political outfit, of playing “an important role in removal of Article 370, when he was the Leader of the Opposition.”
“The BJP did not have numbers in the Rajya Sabha, thus it was not capable to pass the abrogation of these laws. But Azad Sahib, who was the Leader of the Opposition at that time, chose to give his and his party colleagues’ vote in favour of the BJP’s move to abrogate [special provisions] of these Articles,” Mr. Bukhari said.
He urged the former Congress leader not to allure Kashmiri youth with emotional slogans about Article 370 and 35A for his political and personal gains.
“I would request him not to exploit Kashmiri youth by deceptive slogans, which suggest that you are going to restore pre-August 5, 2019, the situation here. Such deceptive claims would make our youth emotional and push them to a situation wherein many of them end up landing in graveyards. We have had enough of killings and bloodshed here, please stop playing with the emotions of our youngsters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bukhari, who launched a new regional party in 2020 after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was abolished, said the party had decided to make a formal demand for the restoration of statehood and would seek an appointment with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
“In empowering the people of Jammu and Kashmir politically and restoring the lost sense of dignity and honour, the Apni Party deems it proper to seek restoration of statehood at this stage. In a federal structure, for better devolution of power, implementation of welfare schemes and good governance, restoration of statehood is integral,” Mr. Bukhari said.
The Apni Party, which held a meeting of party leaders in Srinagar, also demanded release of those “who have been kept behind bars in the name of ‘preventive’ detention in the Valley”.
“The administration should also stop obstructing job opportunities for the youth using a flawed verification system,” Mr. Bukhari said.
“The current administrative system is flawed and makes the prospect of youth bleak. This draconian system should end here,” he added.