SRINAGAR: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidates, if elected, will raise the issues of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and become their voice in the Parliament, party chief Mehbooba Mufti said here on Friday.

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Mufti made the remarks at a press conference at the party headquarters while releasing the manifesto for the Parliamentary polls. “Since August 2019, J&K has been converted into an open-air prison after the illegal abrogation of Article 370. There has been an unending onslaught on our collective identity, land, jobs, resources and infringement upon the very freedom to speak. A series of decisions taken on a daily basis thousands of kilometres away in Delhi serve only to disempower and dispossess us,” Mufti alleged.

She said there is a need to raise our voice against this “onslaught” on the floor of the Parliament. “Right from the drastic changes to the state subject and land laws to the outsourcing of our resources by gifting contracts to outsiders. Even development projects are being handed over to non-locals.

“Hundreds of government employees have been fired on flimsy grounds. Thousands of youngsters continue languishing in jails in and outside J&K as undertrials,” she alleged. She said if the party’s candidates are elected to the Parliament, they will raise their voice on these issues on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The former chief minister also said the party’s elected representatives would focus on the youth of J&K and accordingly their MPLAD funds will be focussed on youth-centric programmes. She also said her priority will be to have tunnels constructed on the Mughal Road, Razdan Pass and Sadhna Pass, which remain cut-off for many months due to heavy snowfall.

The party’s manifesto said while the “illegal” abrogation of Article 370 has only “complicated the issue”, the PDP remains committed to facilitating the resolution of the Kashmir issue through reconciliation and dialogue with its key stakeholders. “A state which has suffered tremendously needs a healing touch to restore peace with dignity,” the manifesto added.

Earlier addressing a rally in Pulwama PDP president said that the main purpose of the PDP to seek votes is to tell the country through parliament that what BJP did in 2019 is not accacceptable. She said that the unilateral decisions, stifling of just voices and erosion of constitutional guarantees are unacceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.  “We will tell this to the people of the country in parliament. This is the reason why attempts to divide our votes must be foiled. Para is eminently qualified to represent the voices besides being able to maintain connection with the roots that he had developed as the party’s youth leader since inception,” she said. She highlighted a grim picture of the current state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, lamenting the transformation of the erstwhile state into an “open-air prison.”

She also highlighted the plight of the people, with youth languishing in jails in different states and unemployment rates soaring. While launching a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she accused them of seeking to strip away the rights and resources of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, pushing them towards a state of bonded labor.

She also invoked the legacy of PDP founder, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, crediting him with reigniting hope and restoring dignity to the people during times of political turmoil. “When POTA was imposed in the state and SOG besides other gunmen were unleashing terror, people had lost all hopes. It was Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who arrogated the responsibility of according people a dignified life upon himself. Things changed and people heaved a sigh of relief when for the first time PDP formed the government in Jammu and Kashmir.”

She added that the present time is a testing time as well. “Neither stone nor gun, vote is our only weapon and we must use it now to give befitting reply to the elements who are out there to besiege our conscience and identity,” she said. She also urged people to unite against attempts by Delhi to divide their votes, emphasizing Para as the most suitable candidate to represent their interests in parliament. Meanwhile, the party welcomed Javed Rahim, a prominent political figure and District Development Council (DDC) member into the party fold.



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