On August 22, a statement was issued from the residence of National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, who lives in Gupkar, the posh Srinagar locality that was once the political nerve centre of Jammu and Kashmir. It was signed by leaders of six pro-India political parties in Kashmir. It was a challenge to Delhi.
“We all reiterate our commitment to collectively fight to restore the Special Status of J&K as guaranteed under the Constitution and the commitments made from time to time,” said a press statement put out after the meeting and signed off by four regional and two national parties. “There is unanimity amongst us that collective institution is the effective way to fight for these rights.”
The statement has come to be known as Gupkar Declaration II. The first Gupkar Declaration was made on August 4, 2019, when political parties in Jammu and Kashmir had met and vowed to protect its autonomy and special status, guaranteed under Article 370.
The next day, the Centre revoked special status under Article 370 and split the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. It also repealed Article 35A, which had guaranteed specific rights to permanent residents of the former state. It pushed through these sweeping changes after imposing a complete lockdown and communications blackout on Jammu and Kashmir. Political leaders, both pro-India and separatist, were rounded up and pitched into detention for months. Some still remain under house arrest.
“We want to assure the people that all our political activities will be subservient to the sacred goal of reverting to the status of J&K as it existed on 4th August 2019,” said Gupkar Declaration II.
In Kashmir, there has been little public response to the declaration.