The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday began the process of widening its consultations with residents in Ladakh, as the alliance asserted that the revocation of articles 370 and 35A by the Centre were unacceptable and vowed to continue the fight to reverse them. "We will fight politically and legally as well, but our fight will be peaceful. We have no intention to vitiate the atmosphere in this state," National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah told reporters in Kargil, over 200 km from here.
A delegation of the PAGD led by Omar Abdullah visited Ladakh and held consultations with the people in Kargil "on the road ahead" for Jammu and Kashmir. Seven mainstream parties of Jammu and Kashmir, including the NC and the PDP, have formed the PAGD for restoration of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Vowing to fight for the rights of the people of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir using all peaceful means, Omar said the PAGD was ready to talk to anyone to develop a wider consensus over their demands. "We are ready to talk to anyone and we will not hesitate in doing so," he said when asked whether the delegation was ready to talk to an apex body recently formed in Leh.
The former chief minister said he wants the representatives from Kargil to become part of the PAGD. "We had not held any discussions with them (representatives from Kargil) so far, so how could we have included them in PAGD? Now that we have held consultations with them, we want the voices from Kargil to attend the meeting of PAGD," he said.
Earlier, addressing people in the Drass area, Omar said the fight against last year's decisions by the Centre would continue as the decisions were imposed on the people of the erstwhile state "illegally" without consulting them. He said the delegation was visiting Kargil on the directions of PAGD president Farooq Abdullah, who is also the chief of the NC, and his deputy and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti to meet the people and take their view point.
The visit was to take the feedback right from the ground-level, Omar said, adding that they did not want to have such a situation where they say one thing in Srinagar and the people in Kargil felt otherwise. "It was very important to come here to bring more weight to our fight so that whether it is Srinagar or Jammu or even Parliament, we can tell the rulers at the Centre that the people of Kargil are not with your August 5, 2019 decisions," he said.
Terming the Centre's decisions as "injustice", Omar said the decisions were thrust upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. "This is injustice. It was for the very first time such a decision was taken without the people's consent. Whenever a state was divided, the decision was taken with the people's consent. Whether it was Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh or recently in Andhra Pradesh the people were with the decision to divide the state. This is for the first time that such a decision was thrust upon people," he said.
The NC leader said they were not ready to accept the Centre's decision. "Neither was this decision taken by our assembly or Parliament, nor was it signed by an elected chief minister of J-K. The powers were taken by the governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir illegally and without talking to us and the state was divided and downgraded into two UTs. We are not ready to accept this decision," he said.
Stressing that the need of the hour was to keep political rifts between various political parties in J-K at bay, the former chief minister said the parties came together to fight for reversing the decisions of August 5 last year. "It is our responsibility today to forget all such things no election, no government, no chair and no power we have come on a single platform with the sole aim to reverse the decisions of August 5 last year. God willing, if you continue to support us, we will not back down in this fight and will reach our objective," Omar Abdullah said.
He assured the people of Kargil that they were not alone in the fight seeking restoration of their rights, saying "we will not rest till we overturn the decisions of August 5, 2019 and succeed in joining back the (erstwhile) state of J-K". Omar Abdullah got nostalgic about the visit saying he felt something different when he entered Kargil.
"Whenever we used to come here, we came thinking we were in our home only, that it was our state, our nation and our people even as we were separated by mountains. But, today, when we crossed Zojilla pass, we felt something different when we saw all names related to J-K have been replaced by Ladakh. We felt like we were entering into some neighbour's house and not ours, like we were coming as guests," he said. Later, Omar tweeted, "A delegation of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration met leaders of the Kargil Democratic Alliance in Kargil this afternoon. All of us united that the pre August 5th, 2019 position must be restored." Commenting on the visit, PDP president Mufti said it was high time someone reached out to the people of Kargil as they too have "grave apprehensions" about the future.
"Glad to see all of you at Kargil to engage with the people. High time someone reached out to them since they too have grave apprehensions about the future," Mufti said in a tweet. The members of the delegation, which visited Ladakh, comprise of NC leader Nasir Aslam Wani, PDP leaders Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura and Waheed Para, and Awami National Conference leader Muzaffar Shah.