Crescent Kashmir

Farooq holds in-person meeting with NC leaders, says all-party meet soon

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Days after the Jammu and Kashmir administration told the High Court that no National Conference (NC) leader was under detention, a group of senior NC leaders met at party president Farooq Abdullah’s Gupkar Road residence on Thursday.

This was the first in-person political meeting of the party after mainstream political leaders were detained at the time of the constitutional changes of August 5, 2019.

An all-party meeting would be convened soon, Farooq Abdullah told reporters. “We will have a meeting on the Gupkar Declaration; that is our core issue,” he said.

A meeting of several political parties in J&K called by Farooq at his residence on August 5, a year after the special status of the erstwhile state was removed, could not take place due to restrictions imposed by the authorities.

Mainstream parties had met at the same place on August 4, 2019, and issued the Gupkar Declaration resolving to stay united to protect the special status of J&K.

On Thursday, Farooq said he was in constant touch with PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, and wanted her to be free. “That will be a great day for us,” he said.

Farooq met with four of his senior party colleagues – NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani, former J&K minister Abdul Rahim Rather, and Muhammad Shafi Uri. “We have started a process and we will continue this,” he said.

“People are in the most miserable condition. There’s hardly anything to say, there’s hardly any drinking water for people. Businesses are also zero, tourism is zero. There is suffering everywhere. On top of it, there’s the coronavirus taking a heavy toll on people, and we still have a situation where the security is very tight,” Farooq, who was flanked by his colleagues, said.

Thanking the courts, he added, “I hope that the leaders present here will now be free, not that they are allowed to step out for a day and then they are confined again. That shouldn’t happen. We will continue to meet more party members so we discuss developments in the UT and for its people.”

The party president, who spent seven months in detention at his home and was charged under the Public Safety Act, said “today, our meeting was only to see whether our colleagues could come out of their homes.”

NC Members of Parliament Muhammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi, party treasurer Shammi Oberoi, and political adviser to Farooq Abdullah, Mushtaq Guroo, were also present.

After the NC leadership sought the release of 15 of its leaders who had spent more than a year under house arrest without orders, IGP (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar had told the court that the petitioners “at no point of time came to be detained by the respondents”.

Farooq has invited another batch of leaders to his residence for consultations on Friday.

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