Hours before Jammu and Kashmir is to split into two union territories (UTs) on Thursday, the National Conference Provincial President Devender Singh Rana on Wednesday appealed to the Jammu based political class, civil society, prominent citizens, academia, legal fraternity, intellectuals, media, trade, and commerce and industry to make a joint appeal to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and above all to the Parliament for the retention of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing media persons here Rana said, “Let’s all rise above political affiliations and party ideologies and give vent to the legitimate aspirations of people before the country’s leadership as a single entity in the larger interest of Jammu, which is psychologically feeling a sense of loss on the impending downgrading of the State as a Union Territory.”

Urging the political class of Jammu, including BJP, Congress, JKNPP, and CPI to rise to the occasion and make a strong pitch for the retention of statehood, a historic feat achieved by the visionary Maharaja Gulab Singh two centuries ago after enormous sacrifices. He said the history stands testimony to the great role played by Jammu for retaining the pristine glory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir during the most testing times, especially in the early nineties by embracing the people in distress from the Kashmir valley and parts of the Doda region, irrespective of religion.

“Today, when Jammu is at the crossroads of its history, we invoke the conscience of our Parliament and the political leadership to revisit the decision,” he said, adding that mere thought of being known as residents of the Union Territory is depressing. He said the people of Jammu have shown their resentment to the downgrading of statehood in the recently held elections to Block Development Councils.

He said the demands for the union territory status for Ladakh and separate statehood to Jammu were being raised from time to time but reducing the bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory was beyond anybody’s imagination and comprehension.

Rana said Jammu and Kashmir was, is, and shall remain an integral part of India. He said this formed the preamble of the Constitution of the State.

Replying to a question on the abrogation of the Articles 370 and 35A, Rana said the call on these measures and the future roadmap of the National Conference will be drawn by the party’s working committee after Farooq Abdullah and Vice President Omar Abdullah are released from detention.