The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday allowed first political activity since the Centre revoked the special status of the state on August 5, The Hindu reported. A party identified as Jammu Kashmir Political Movement (I) addressed a press conference at the Media Facilitation Centre.
The head of the party is former journalist Shahid Khan. He was accompanied by militant-turned-counter-insurgent and former Congress leader Mushtaq Ahmad Tantray, Asif Abdullah, advocate Raja Ashraf and Omar Ahmad. The government gave them permission to hold the presser.
The members claimed to have put their lives at risk by daring to speak out at a time when “no other person does”, The Telegraph reported. “It takes a lot of courage [to speak out] and it was a very, very difficult decision for us to come and talk to you – because, somehow, nobody was speaking out,” Khan said.
Khan refused to take any stand on the abrogation of Article 370, but blamed the previous governments in Jammu and Kashmir and the regional parties of “playing negative politics in the past”.
“The ruling leaders of J&K always played dual character and politics of manipulation for achieving their own goals,” Khan was quoted as saying by The Hindu. “They have brought problems instead of solutions. They have been the reason for every problem that J&K faces today.”
On asked who the members of the party were, they repeatedly said they were “ordinary and common” men. “As of now, we are nothing…. There are not many who know us,” they said. “We know that such questions will arise and that many people will say a lot of things about us.”
Khan said the bloodshed and miseries in the Valley have not achieved anything.
The other members said they have a progressive way of thinking, and called for a “post-370 solution” and urged the media to shun negativity and “bring up the positivity about Kashmir and play a positive role”.
They asked the Central government to restore Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, grant domicile rights and job reservations to residents of the state similar to those available in the North East under Article 371. “The Centre should provide guarantees as in other states on land and restore social security among people,” a joint statement by them said. “No hazardous industry should be set up in J&K’s fragile ecology.”
The five members also demanded the restoration of communication lines and the release of the detained youth. “All detained members of the civil society, if employing non-violent means to express their viewpoint, should also be released,” Khan said.
The party urged New Delhi to talk to the “real people” and listen to the voices of the “children from all the schools and colleges”.
Jammu and Kashmir was put under prohibitory orders and an unprecedented communications blackout on August 4 as the government prepared to announce the revocation of the region’s autonomy. Prohibitory orders are being lifted gradually but the communications blockade remains in many parts. Some protests have been reported in the region after the decision. Several leaders in the state were put under house arrest after the state lost its special status. While there were no reports from former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, leaders like Shah Faesal challenged their detainment in court.
The political activities in the state has come to an halt and most of the offices are also sealed by the security forces. Only government briefings are allowed so far in the state.
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