The main opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the National Conference, Congress and PDP, on Tuesday staged a nearly three-hour-long dharna for restoration of democratic and constitutional rights in the Union Territory.
This was the first major protest here since the revocation of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.
The protest at Maharaja Hari Singh Park in the heart of Jammu was supposed to be led by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, but he could not make it to the heavily guarded venue due to “ill health.”
However, senior party leaders led by provincial president Rattan Lal Gupta participated in the protest.
Likewise, PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also did not participate in the protest but almost all senior leaders of the party in Jammu, including vice president Abdul Hameed Choudhary and former MLC Firdous Tak, were part of the protest.
National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Monday said the election commission not announcing the poll schedule for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly can push people to take to the streets for their right to have an elected government.
“It seems like we are being pushed to a situation where we have to protest even for our democratic rights,” Abdullah had told reporters in Srinagar on Monday, shortly after the election commission announced the poll schedule for five states – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram.
Hundreds of leaders and workers of various parties including CPI(M), National Panthers Party (NPP), Awami National Conference, Shiv Sena (UBT), Awami National Conference and social organisations turned up for the protest.
“The opposition parties have come together to demand immediate restoration of statehood, democratic and constitutional rights,” Pradesh Congress Committee president Vikar Rasool Wani said.
“We will continue our protest for the rights of the people and safeguarding their interests,” he further said.
Wani alleged the BJP is delaying elections deliberately, knowing fully that it, along with its allies like the Democratic Progressive Azad Party and the Apni Party, will face the rout in the electoral battles.
CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said they have no hope from the BJP-led central government as all its promises have proved “false.”
PDP’s Tak termed the joint protest as a “positive sign” for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and said the message from this platform to the country is that all opposition parties need to stand up against the divisive politics” of the present dispensation to safeguard the secularism and the “idea of India.”