The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday foiled a meeting of mainstream political leaders to discuss the current situation in J&K that was scheduled to be held at the Srinagar residence of National Conference (NC) chief and sitting MP Farooq Abdullah as no participant was allowed to reach the venue. Approach roads to his residence on the Gupkar Road were sealed with concertina wires.
However, there were no restrictions on BJP activists who assembled at many places, including Srinagar, to celebrate the first anniversary of abrogation of the Article 370. They hoisted the Tricolor at many places in the Kashmir valley and in the Jammu division to celebrate the day.
The first to do so was a woman BJP activist Rumisa Rafiq who early in the morning hoisted the Tricolor in the Lal Chowk in the Anantnag town of south Kashmir that continues to be hot bed of terrorism.
Leaders of the mainstream opposition parties were fuming with anger on the issue of the authorities allegedly not letting them to move out of their houses although the curfew was lifted by Srinagar’s district magistrate late last night. The DM had earlier clamped the curfew till Wednesday.
Their meeting had been called at Abdullah’s residence at the Gupkar, where last year on 4 August, a day before abrogation of the Article 370, the ‘Gupkar declaration’ was forged collectively by all the political parties vowing to protect the special status of the erstwhile state.
The leaders who were scheduled to attend the meeting claimed they had been placed under house detention and were asked not to venture out of their homes.
The meeting had been called by Abdullah to chalk out “political strategy on Article 370” which was abrogated by the central government last year on this day. Besides the NC, leaders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, CPI (M) and other smaller parties had been invited for the meeting, which was being held on the first anniversary of abrogation of the Article 370.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah took to the twitter to vent his anger by sharing pictures of the sealed road and said; “One year on, this is Gupkar road today – police vehicles opposite our gates, concertina wire strung across the road at regular intervals & no vehicles allowed. My father had called a meeting of leaders of MAINSTREAM parties to deliberate on the current situation”.
“Clearly the meeting is not being allowed to go ahead. The BJP gets to announce a 15 day celebration to mark 5th Aug & a handful of us aren’t allowed to meet in my father’s lawn. So much for BJP national leaders wondering why there is no political activity”, he said in a series of tweets.
“One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet much less carry out any normal political activity. This fear speaks volumes about the true situation on the ground in Kashmir”.
In another tweet, while sharing pictures of BJP members celebrating the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370, he said, “BJP displaying its hypocrisy. They can gather & celebrate. The rest of us can’t even meet to discuss what’s happening in J&K.
CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami tweeted; “Locks on gates, lock downs as celebrations and lies as defences has been the hallmark of last year. Today, political leaders were supposed to meet at Dr Farooq Abdullah’s residence to discuss the political challenges region is facing. But unfortunately, we were not allowed”.
Omar was quick in replying to Tarigami’s tweet by saying; “Not to worry Tarigami Sb some senior journalists have been parachuted in to Srinagar to tell the nation how normal everything is. I suppose in a sense they are correct because this IS the new normal for new Kashmir”.
While questioning the rationale behind scuttling the meeting, octogenarian Abdullah said, “They (BJP government) claim a political process has started in Kashmir, but not a single leader was allowed to reach my residence (for the meeting).” The participants, who were supposed to attend the meeting, have been placed under house arrest. “Is this the normalcy which the government is talking about. How can you claim normalcy when the leaders are not even being allowed to meet,” Abdullah said.
Detained PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s twitter handle too spoke about the situation; “A year ago we witnessed how a majoritarian govt mutilated & robbed J&K in broad daylight. Seasons may have changed but the betrayal will never be forgiven or forgotten. Prolonged enforced silence wont suppress emotions forever.