Monday, 30th October 2017

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Unity amid crackdown in Kashmir

Almost the entire mainstream leadership met and passed a resolution vowing to defend the state’s special status

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 5.08.19, 1:45 AM
  • Updated 5.08.19, 1:45 AM
  • a min read
Farooq Abdullah (second from left) and Mehbooba Mufti with the other leaders at the all-party meeting in Srinagar on Sunday. (PTI)

The Valley’s mainstream parties on Sunday united in a pledge to defend the state’s special status as the administration intensified a crackdown on their leaders, sending a corruption probe notice to former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Tensions escalated amid rumours about a prolonged curfew that defied official denials and fed on formal letters issued by hospital chiefs and essential-services officials seeking curfew passes for their staff.

The allotment of satellite phones to scores of senior officials lent credence to reports about a looming, unprecedented blackout of mobile and Internet services.

With the separatist leadership virtually paralysed by a terror-funding crackdown, the authorities have been tightening the screws on the pro-India leaders. Mehbooba and former legislator Engineer Rashid joined the list on Sunday.

Mehbooba received a notice from the state anti-corruption bureau about allegedly illegal appointments made in Jammu and Kashmir Bank under her rule. The National Investigation Agency summoned Rashid to Delhi.

Mehbooba alleged “concerted efforts… to browbeat mainstream leaders” and “thwart potential efforts for a collective response”.

Undeterred, almost the entire mainstream leadership met and passed a resolution vowing to defend the state’s special status, referring specifically to Articles 35A and 370.

The resolution said: “All the parties would unite in their resolve to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever.”

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah presided over the meeting, attended by Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba, People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone, the CPM’s Yousuf Tarigami, IAS topper turned politician Shah Faesal, and Congress leaders.

The parties decided to seek audiences with the President, the Prime Minister and the leaders of other political parties.