As the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir continues to be under lockdown seven months after the Central government abrogated Article 370, former People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Altaf Bukhari launched a new political party on Sunday in Srinagar.
Filling the political vacuum created after local politicians were put under house arrest, the Jammu and Kashmir’s Apni Party comprising several ex-legislators belonging to the PDP and Congress is led by Bukhari.
However, Bukhari said he didn’t see the prospects of elections soon, “I do not see elections happening anytime soon. It may take at least a year or so. Let us work for the people till then,” he said.
The Indian Express reports, Addressing a press conference at his residence in Srinagar, Bukhari called the JKAP “a regional party with a national outlook”, “a party by the commoners, for the commoners, and of the commoners”.
The Apni Party’s “March 8, 2020 Declaration” said it would “seek to ensure that JK’s destiny is driven by people alone while preserving its identity”, and that its goals included restoration of J&K statehood, protection of its domicile rights, and “dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits”. It resolved to provide a “viable” political platform and achieve its objectives “in a peaceful, democratic and result-oriented manner”.
Claiming that Jammu and Kashmir were “on the same platform now”, Bukhari said, “Jammu also wants statehood and Kashmir also wants statehood. Similar is the case with state domicile rights and jobs. Whatever the distance between New Delhi and the people of J&K, our efforts would be to end those.”
Bukhari said there was no option but to talk to Delhi. “We have to do business with Delhi, whosoever rules Delhi,” he said. “We don’t look at Delhi from the point of who is ruling in Delhi today. We look at it as the government of India and we have to deal with the government of India. We have no hesitation in dealing with the government of India.”
The launch of the new party comes when many prominent leaders of Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Shah Faesal among others have been put under house arrest and the draconian Public Safety Act.