National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah announced People's Alliance for ‘Gupkar Declaration’ on Thursday, 15 October, after an all party meet at his residence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
The motive behind the alliance, that includes National Conference (NC), PDP, CPI(M), PC, JKPM & ANC, is to work towards restoring the special status of J&K after it was revoked in 2019. The meeting was also attended by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti.
Mufti, who was released from detention after 14 months on Wednesday, 14 October, met NC leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah on Wednesday, accepting the invitation.
Mufti responded to Omar Abdullah by stating, “It was nice of you & Farooq sahab to come home. It gave me courage listening to him. Im sure together we all can change things for the better. (sic)”
To understand the relevance of announcement, here’s a look at what the Gupkar Declaration actually is and why it was signed in the first place.
WHY WAS THE GUPKAR DECLARATION SIGNED?
On August 4, 2019, the first Gupkar declaration was signed after an all-party meeting at the Gupkar Road residence of NC supremo Farooq Abdullah. The resolution had parties unanimously agreeing to unify in their efforts to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The meeting was triggered by the massive deployment of Armed Forces and the Centre’s decision to remove tourists from the then state of J&K.
The signatories were reportedly members of the NC, PDP, CPI(M), Congress, J&K Peoples Conference and Awami National Conference.
Just a day after this, on 5 August 2019 however, the central government revoked the special status under Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The Article 35A, which guaranteed specific rights to permanent residents of the former state was also repealed. What followed was a complete lockdown in J&K, with communications within the then state blocked out. Senior political leaders from most parties were placed under house arrest.
With most political leaders now released from detention, efforts are on to renew the movement by signing the Gupkar Declaration 2.0.
WHAT IS THE GUPKAR DECLARATION II?
On 22 August 2020, leaders from the six political parties once again held a meeting and signed the Gupkar II Declaration to renew their resolve to adhere to the 2019 declaration that was signed. A statement on the joint declaration signed during the meeting reported by PTI read,
“We all reiterate that we are bound, wholly, by the contents of the Gupkar Declaration and will unwaveringly adhere to it. We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J-K and the restoration of the state and any division of the state is unacceptable to us. We unanimously reiterate that there can be ‘nothing about us without us’.”
Terming the Centre’s decision to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A “spitefully shortsighted” and “unconstitutional move”, the statement further read, “The series of measures undertaken on 5 August, 2019 were grossly unconstitutional and in reality measures of disempowerment and a challenge to the basic identity of the people of J-K. The measures attempt to redefine who we are. These changes were accompanied by repressive measures meant to silence people and coerce them into submission, and continue unabated," reported PTI.
The parties vowed to collectively fight to restore the special status of J-K as guaranteed under the Constitution.