An achievement for us that PM initiated a political dialogue: Altaf Bukhari

Published on Jun 26, 2021 01:18 AM IST

The Apni Party president and former minister says neither Washington nor Islamabad, but New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can restore the statehood and other rights taken away from them

Altaf Bukhari, Apni Party president and former minister (PTI)
Altaf Bukhari, Apni Party president and former minister (PTI)
ByMir Ehsan

My stand has been vindicated, Apni Party president and former minister Altaf Bukhari tells HT’s Mir Ehsan as he talks about how only New Delhi and Prime Minister Modi can restore the statehood and other rights taken away from them.

My stand has been vindicated that whatever we will get, it’s from New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, neither Washington nor Islamabad. So our party opened the doors for dialogue with New Delhi without setting any conditions. The solution to all our problems lies in a democratic setup. From Day 1, we adopted an honest political approach wherein we expressed our belief that only two main forums — the Parliament and the judiciary — are the custodian of people’s constitutional rights, which were done away with in J&K unilaterally.

We pleaded for early hearing by the Supreme Court on Articles 370 and 35-A, statehood, delimitation on merit, constitutional protection for land, jobs and natural resources for J&K residents, policies for youth, better interregional connectivity, and early assembly elections. Our stand has been the same from Day 1. When all other leaders were promising stars and moon to the people of J&K, we wanted restoration of statehood and jobs and land reservations. We were dubbed Kings Party or Team B of the Centre by all those political parties and leaders who now demanded the same things.

It may happen by the end of 2021 and completion of delimitation process could be over by August or September end.

For us, it’s an achievement that PM Modi and home minister Amit Shah initiated a much-needed political dialogue with all shades of the political spectrum in J&K. I hope this will lead us towards a sustainable and meaningful roadmap that is in the best interest and welfare of the people of J&K. Grant of statehood will restore faith among the people who are hurt after revocation of Article 370 and downgrading of the state to UTs.

When Apni Party’s members met with the top leadership last year, that assuaged many pressing socio-political and economic issues and ensured the release of 718 people, including some top political leaders and workers. Even guarantees of jobs and land rights are there, but we want them as constitutional guarantees, and what was what I conveyed to PM Modi on Thursday.

Safeguarding the natural resources besides augmentation of infrastructure in education, health, power, Jal Shakti, tourism, hospitality, agriculture, horticulture and industrial sectors.

Yes, it should have never happened. The August 5 decisions have left indelible marks on the psyche of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially with regard to their special rights on employment under government services; acquisition of immovable property; settlement in the state and, of course, defining such residents.

Do you think there is alienation among the people of J&K post-revocation of Article 370?

The governor and administration in J&K may have tried their best to deliver, but people still feel alienated and one of the major and justifiable reasons is that they are deprived of their democratic rights to decide their own fate. No bureaucratic set-up can replace or prove to be a dependable substitute to an elected government.

Are there any apprehensions on delimitation in J&K?

Yes. Leaders wanted elections ahead of the delimitation process in J&K. Here, the process of delimitation is still being viewed as a politically motivated exercise which has raised many concerns in J&K. People are concerned that adjustment of boundaries and description of the extent of parliamentary constituencies have been thrusted to pit one region against other for some political mileage. This serious issue needs to be addressed and this exercise must be based on merit. We have been assured that all parties will get representation even if the party has a single DDC member.

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