Restore statehood on August 5: JKAP chief Altaf Bukhari

Says J&K suffered from “crackdown” earlier, now it's “lockdown”, and there is no difference for the common man


“I demand from the Indian government that they restore statehood on August 5. It is our right. It will be one year that statehood was snatched away from us. Restore it on that day. Even the Reorganisation Act was for one year,” says Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) founding president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari. The party may still be considered too new, and is yet to mark its footprint in the political arena of Jammu and Kashmir, but Bukhari has raised a slogan that has piqued the electorate’s interest. 

Bukhari has once again called for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir as a state. He raised the issue months after he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, days after launching JAKP in March this year. He had told the media then that both the PM,and HM had “assured that statehood will be returned, and the domicile law passed,” and other issues concerning the people of J&K will also be addressed. That was around seven months after the Union Government announced  abrogation of J&K’s special status, followed by its bifurcation into two Union Territories.  

Bukhari, has timed his reminder call well. It will soon be a year since Jammu and Kashmir lost its statehood, and its special status, but there has been no move announced by the Centre yet to fulfil that promise. According to media reports he has said it was now “necessary to overcome the simmering political disengagement prevalent among people”.

The Tribune reported that the JKAP chief has stated that there will be “no compromise on the restoration of the statehood to J&K”. He has said this even as “his party is reluctantly reconciling to the loss of the special status,” but he has told the media that he wants “J&K and its people to be treated on a par with the people in the rest of the country”. 

Interestingly, it was National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, the octogenarian who is still hailed by his followers as Jammu and Kashmir’s most vocal leader, who had raised the issue recently. His words had shaken the (now) Union Territory’s political scene. Abdullah had been under detention since last year, under the PSA (Public Safety Act), and was released only in March 2020. Last month, he appeared after a ‘sabbatical’ and called the domicile policy for J&K “illegal and unconstitutional”. His words had  restarted the political debates in the Valley. It was also a message to the Union Government that the NC may be gearing up to take the issue up in a big way, in the days to come. 

Abdullah who had been detained on August 5, 2019, the day the special status of the erstwhile state was quashed, may perhaps now focus on seeking a reversal of the decision scrapping Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. In June, he sent a loud message to the Union Government calling the domicile law “unconstitutional” and saying it was “not acceptable” to him. A report in Greater Kashmir quoted Abdullah as saying, “The law is illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional. So why do you think I am going to accept something which is unconstitutional?” 

Now, according to The Tribune, JKAP’s Bukhari, a former PDP leader, too has reactivated his party’s political activities after his recent return to Srinagar from Delhi. According to a report in the Greater Kashmir, on Friday the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party  Chief, also demanded the restoration of high-speed Internet and statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. The GK reported that Bukhari was Speaking to the media at the Jammu office of the party, and said that they will fight for the restoration of the statehood “snatched from them.” The media has quoted him as saying that “re-establishing J&K as a State would be a practical step to bring good governance, economic development and peace and stability to the region”.

He said the UT’s bureaucracy was “unresponsive” and was not connected or concerned with the common citizen. “The officers do not even pick up the phone,” he stressed that the citizens’ problems were neither heard nor solved.  He says the way the situation was unfolding in J&K in the “garb of Covid”. The people of J&K he said were suffering for long before the Covid lockdown. 

“Nothing has happened in Jammu and Kashmir since last one year, Bukhari also called for an end to “divisive politics” in Jammu and Kashmir and said that people from both the regions need to be united, reported GK. He also demanded  4G restoration, and GK quotes him as saying: “The militants use satellite phones, not 4G which has not been restored despite repeated appeals. We do not know why people of Jammu and Kashmir have been deprived of their right.”

Bukhari said that the J&K state had suffered from “crackdown” earlier, now it’s “lockdown”, and that there is no difference for the common man. It is perhaps for the first time that the businessman-turned politician has made such demands in such an assertive manner unlike the way he approached the issues in March. Though it is yet to be seen if he reaches out to other politicians, especially the NC, to join hands and work towards a common cause.  


Jammu and Kashmir: The impact of lockdowns on Human Rights
We are united against everything that they have done: Farooq Abdullah 
Domicile certificate for others, no rehab plan yet for Kashmiri Pandits?



Related Articles