The National Conference's (NC) most prominent face in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, former minister Syed Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari tendered his resignation from the party on Tuesday, 22 February.
In a brief resignation letter addressed to NC president Farooq Abdullah, he wrote, "Your constant insistence on me foregoing the Pahari cause has made this relationship untenable for me."
As per Bukhari, the NC was holding him back in his fight to grant Scheduled Tribe status to Pahari-speaking people in the twin border districts – a cause that is not willing to be compromised, The Indian Express reported.
Tuesday's development also comes two days after a conference of Pahari leaders, where the former NC leader shared a stage with Bharatiya Janata Party's J&K president Ravinder Raina. As per the report, a fresh demand for granting ST status to the community was made.
Since last three decades, Paharis have been seeking ST status, after the Gujjars and Bakarwals were granted it in 1991.
As per sources, Raina asserted that the BJP was committed to granting ST status to Paharis, with Bukhari announcing that if this happened, he would end his association with the NC and join the BJP, The Indian Express reported.
Speaking to the daily, the ex-NC leader claimed that he met Farooq Abdullah several times in the last few days, who accused him of joining the BJP. Meanwhile, NC's Jammu province disputed these claims and reiterated the support for Paharis.
(With inputs from Indian Express and Greater Kashmir.)