After the restoration of Kashmir’s political contender’s right to movement in J&K, the National Conference (NC) held an all-party meeting at the residence of NC president, Farooq Abdullah. He was joined by the People’s Democratic Party, Congress People’s Conference, CPM and Awami National Conference.
What was produced in the meeting, came to be known as the Gupkar Declaration 2.0, a successor of a similar declaration made in 2019 which vowed that the political players in J&K will unanimously contest against the cancellation of Article 370 and for the region’s right to autonomy.
However, NC president Farooq Abdullah later revealed that he did not intend on convincing the Indian Prime Minister, Modi to change his stance on the reversal of Article 370. He stated that such a move would be “pointless”, and that “the politics of appeasement is the worst thing I can do to the people here.” Political commentators have since stated that this statement gravely jeopardized NC’s stand on the Gupkar Resolution.
Soon after 2020’s Gupkar Resolution, Omar Abdullah, NC’s chairman revealed in a statement that he did not intend to contest in any elections while J&K remained a part of Union Territory. However, he later seemed to change his stance and Farooq Abdullah took over much of the narrative, himself. The NC thereon, largely ignored Omar Abdullah’s previous statement.
Another instance that sparked differences between the NC and the second Gupkar Resolution occurred recently in a Parliamentary session. Where Farooq Abdullah’s statement (or lack of) regarding Article 370, in his maiden speech at Lok Sabha sparked unrest amongst local political parties especially the People’s Conference. For the first time since he was released from political detention, NC president, Dr. Abdullah, spoke in the parliament on Saturday.
He advocated for talks with Pakistan regarding skirmishes at the border so that the situation at J&K may be resolved. “As you (India) are talking to China to attempt that it withdraws (From Ladakh), we should also talk to our other neighbor to find a way to get out of this situation,” he said. He also talked about the problems faced by students and businesspersons in J&K due to the blocking of 4G internet services in the region.
One of the signatories of the Gupkar Resolution 2.0, People’s Conference, has since spoken upon the NC president’s lack of word on the revocation of Article 370, saying that Dr. Farooq essentially gave the declaration a “silent burial” at Lok Sabha. Abdul Gani Vakil, senior VP of the People’s Conference said, “Farooq didn’t utter a single word about the revocation of Article 370 and the Gupkar declaration.” Vakil conveyed his astonishment at the wastage of a supreme opportunity to talk about the issue.
It’s also interesting to note that there hasn’t been a significant public response to Gupkar 2.0. This is not only due to the ambiguous terms and plans following the resolution but also due to the lack of security provided to political players in J&K which makes political activities difficult and limits mobility out of fear of attack from militants in the region.
However, another reason that the Valley’s population seems exhausted from local politics is the inability of these parties to ensure the public’s safety and identity. Many mainstream parties still operate as New Delhi’s puppets, undermining the struggles of the Kashmiri people and in return garnering their disdain.
The most notable feature of the Gupkar resolution was the union of all major political parties in J&K which was a rare and unprecedented event. The revocation of Article 370 had united the parties for a singular cause. However, this sentiment has been put into jeopardy due to Farooq Abdullah’s inability to speak of the declaration in the parliament.
This seems like a call-back to the time when political parties in Kashmir were at severe odds with each other. When the NC and the People’s Democratic Party were rivals, or when the Awami National Conference was weaponized by New Delhi to topple NC’s governance in J&K. It is therefore vital that all the major political parties now stay consistent behind the goals established in the Gupkar Resolution, if the Kashmiri people have any chance at self-determination.
This is essential especially since there has also been a rise in a new sentiment amongst the Kashmiri public. Struck in between a political cross-fire, they now believe that it would be impossible to reverse their Union Territory status and that the effects reaped by public resistance have hit a dead wall. Instead, only geopolitical changes on a major scale would help them achieve any degree of sovereignty.
Nausheen Samad is a student of Social Entreprenuership at Institute of Business Management and has interests in International Relations, Philosophy and Political Sociology.