‘Hindutva Corporate’ stifles dissent: Parties on house arrest of Gupkar leaders

Leaders of the Gupkar Alliance including former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed on home arrest on January 1, ahead of their sit in against the Jammu and Kashmir’s Delimitation Commission’s recommendations

Gupkar declaration
The Gupkar alliance is a new political alliance seeking reinstatement of statehood, special status and semi-autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir.

Prominent political parties and leaders in Jammu and Kashmir have criticised the house arrest of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) leaders including three former chief ministers, and alleged that a “system of Hindutva Corporate” was stifling all forms of democratic dissent in the restive region.

In the morning of January 1, police parked their trucks outside the residences of National Conference leaders and former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami in Srinagar’s Gupkar area. The leaders were informed that they were under house arrest.

The Gupkar alliance, a new political alliance seeking reinstatement of statehood, special status and semi-autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, had called a protest march against the proposals of Jammu and Kashmir’s Delimitation Commission to increase six assembly segments in the Jammu region and only one in the Kashmir valley.

Unionists in Jammu and Kashmir have said that by thwarting all peaceful protests in Jammu and Kashmir, the current dispensation in New Delhi was “incentivising and facilitating” only violent forms of expression.


Also read: New ‘dawn’ yet to break in J&K, even as fear & violence grip region

Tarigami, also the convener and chief spokesperson of PAGD, confirmed that he was placed under house arrest by sleuths of Jammu and Kashmir Police and prevented from participating in the sit-in protest. Calling the “onslaught against all civil liberties, democratic dissent and media rights” a terrible and intolerable phenomenon, he said it, however, was not unexpected.

“Jammu and Kashmir is facing a serious crisis. It is the question of our survival, dignity and democratic rights. A system of Hindutva Corporate is usurping our political, economic and human rights. The battle is about our very existence,” Tarigami asserted, adding that it was about time that “all parties representing different ideological hues in Jammu and Kashmir came together, built new bridges of solidarity, and forged new partnerships to fight divisive and communal forces.”

“For us here in Kashmir, New Year began on another disappointing note where police resumed their work of scuttling the legitimate voices and squeezing democratic space by cracking down on protest against the Delimitation Commission. I was placed under house detention. Similarly, our entire leadership of the PAGD was not allowed to move outside,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC), which is part of the PAGD, voiced concern in strong words over the detention of key leaders of the conglomerate.

“This makeshift administration has crossed all limits of democratic principles. It is shamelessly preventing our leadership from registering a peaceful protest against measures aimed at marginalising Kashmir and its people,” party spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar told The Federal.

“Shameful that the BJP leadership and their government decided to confine former chief ministers under house arrest for daring to show resentment against the draft proposal of the Delimitation Commission,” Dar added.

Earlier, former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Good morning & welcome to 2022. A new year with the same J&K police illegally locking people in their homes & an administration so terrified of normal democratic activity. Trucks parked outside our gates to scuttle the peaceful @JKPAGD sit-in protest. Some things never change.”

Expressing outrage over the incident, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Suhail Bukhari likened the behaviour of the central government to that of the East India Company. “What the East India Company did in India for over 200 years, the BJP is taking a leaf out of the colonial book. The party is grabbing our land and choking democratic spaces to enforce silence.”

Bukhari said that what happened on August 5, 2019, was not an event in itself. “In fact, it is a process that involves a design of the RSS-BJP combine to disempower, dispossess and disenfranchise the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, the saffron party is exploiting our resources to take full control of the region and peoples’ lives,” he said.

Besides rejecting the recommendations of the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission, the PAGD leaders criticised all new policies with regards to land, revenue, investment, and media.

“Foiling peaceful protests, arresting political leaders and sealing party offices are signs of a totalitarian setup, not a healthy democracy. Our protests puncture the narrative of the alternative reality that the BJP has conjured up. We are conveying it loud and clear that Kashmiri leadership and the people of Kashmir have rejected the August 5 decisions and do not treat them as fait accompli,” Najmu Saqib, another PDP leader, told The Federal.

In some pockets of Kashmir, some workers and members of the NC and PDP were successful in staging demonstrations against the delimitation commission’s draft proposal. Party sympathisers of NC shouted slogans like “Jeet Hamari, In sha Allah; Dushman Harey, In sha Allah; Taanashahi Nahin Chalegi (victory is ours, god willing; our enemy will be defeated, god willing; dictatorship won’t be entertained). “Restore Article 370, Restore Article 35A, We Reject Delimitation Commission’s Proposals,” read placards held by PDP workers.

“At the behest of New Delhi, the lame duck administration issues dictatorial orders on a daily basis, but we will continue to fight for our rights,” said Abdal Ahmed, a political worker.

Also read: ‘Apartheid’: Parties fume at Delimitation panel’s seat revision plan for J&K

Former chief minister and PDP’s president Mehbooba Mufti also expressed her dissent through a tweet: “GOI (Government of India) trumpets scrapping Article 370 & dismembering J&K throughout the country but is deeply paranoid & intolerant when people of J&K want to protest against its disempowerment. For the umpteenth time, we’ve been placed under house arrest for trying to organise a peaceful protest.”

Rouf Bhat, another political leader based in Srinagar, emphasised the political resolution of the Kashmir issue. “Under the banner of the PAGD, our youths took to streets to register our democratic protest against the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission’s latest set of proposals, but see how democratic dissent is being crushed. What democracy is this when three former chief ministers and senior politicians like Tarigami sahib are not allowed to move out and placed under detention,” Bhat told The Federal.