SRINAGAR: People’s Conference on Saturday said the silence of opposition parties on Article 370 — abrogated by the Centre — is tantamount to an endorsement of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir special status.

The party’s statement came a day after a virtual meeting of the leaders of 19 opposition parties demanded the release of all political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir, restoration of its full statehood including J-K cadre of central services and the conduct of free and fair assembly elections at the earliest.

“The meeting of 19 opposition parties by selectively parroting the demand for statehood and criminal silence on Articles 370 and 35A has endorsed the revocation of the special status of J-K,” J-K People’s Conference (JKPC) spokesperson Adnan Ashraf Mir said.

“In a statement issued after the meeting, there was no mention of repealing the decisions taken by the BJP government on August 5th 2019,” he added.

Mir said the opposition has “buried” the demand of the people of J-K of bringing back Articles 370 and 35A and the domicile rights of the erstwhile state.

“Two senior leaders (NC president) Farooq Abdullah and (PDP president) Mehbooba Mufti attended the meeting. They failed to convince the opposition parties to put restoration of Articles 370, 35A and domicile rights on their agenda. Why did these senior leaders attend the meeting when they could not persuade the opposition parties about the demands put forward in the Gupkar Declaration?” he asked.

The Centre had abrogated the J-K’s special status under Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

The JKPC spokesperson said “constructive ambiguity” was a better option than “criminal unambiguity” expressed through silence of the 19 opposition parties.

“The fact of the matter is that the easiest way to restore Articles 370 and 35A is through Parliament. The court process is time-consuming. The BJP has, in past, made it clear that they will never restore the special status of J-K. The stance taken by opposition parties after the meeting makes it clear that they will not restore J-K’s special status in Parliament,” he said in a statement.

Asserting that both the PDP and the NC have “endorsed” the stand of the opposition parties through their participation at the meeting, Mir alleged that Abdullah and Mehbooba have nailed the coffin of the special status of J-K.

“It seems NC and PDP are over enthusiastic to jump into the frame and be seen courting the national opposition. But at what cost? To find a seat on the high table, Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah have traded off their demand for restoration of peoples’ rights and most importantly betrayed the commitments made to people of J&K.”

“If these 19 opposition parties will not support the demand of the people of J-K, then what is the fun of attending such a meeting?” Mir asked.

He said both the NC and the PDP will have to explain that if both the spectrums of Indian polity — the ruling party and the opposition parties — are against the restoration of special status then who will restore it in Parliament.

“The current ruling dispensation is not exactly known for its tolerance. On one hand, Mufti-Abdullah breaks bread with an opposition group that does not have the exigencies of being in power.”

“Yet they refuse to endorse the stand of people of J-K. If this is the stance of these parties out of power surely they will be more hardline when they are in power,” he said.

Mir said JKPC has always maintained that there is a national consensus on Article 370 between the Left, Right and the centrist parties.

Earlier, JKPC chairman Sajad Lone, in a series of tweets, said the leaders from J-K should either get the national opposition endorse the demand for the restoration of Article 370 so that there is some hope in the future or just keep out of the united platform.

“No mention of Article 370 in opposition parties’ meet. In wonderment how can J and K leaders justify their presence in the meeting if they could not convince the leaders to talk about 370. BJP’s anti-370 stance is clear. What is the national opposition stance,” Lone said on Twitter.

Lone asked why the leaders from J-K were becoming a part of a process “which endorses don’t talk about Article 370” discourse.

“Wow so (yo)u become a part of a national opposition which abandons 370 and (yo)u irk and irritate a ruling party, not known for tolerance and hence put even statehood at risk.”

“For heaven’s sake. Let us at least resolve that if we can’t facilitate we will not impede either. Leaders from J and K should either get the national opposition endorse demand for 370 so that at the national level there is some hope at a future date or just keep out of it,” he said.

The National Conference (NC) on Saturday denounced the jibe taken by the People’s Conference at a meeting of Opposition parties convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi as unfounded and out of sync with reality.

The People’s Conference, led by Sajad Lone, said NC president Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, who attended the virtual meeting on Friday, failed to convince the Opposition parties to put restoration of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution and domicile rights on their agenda.

In a joint statement, NC’s segment in-charges from Kupwara district, including Choudhary Muhammad Ramzaan, Mir Saifullah, Qaiser Jamsheed Lone, Kafeelur Rehman and Shafqat Watali, said the “rants” against the party president are coming from a person “who is hopelessly inconsistent in his views”.

“Known for changing narratives, his (Lone’s) only permanent character is that of a pendulum, which keeps on swinging from one extreme to another. From joining the PAGD to leaving it, he has only damaged the cause of restoration of Articles 370 and 35A,” they said.

The People’s Conference said the leaders from Jammu and Kashmir should either get the national Opposition to endorse the demand for the restoration of Article 370 so that there is some hope in the future or just keep out of the united platform.

However, the NC leaders said neither they nor other like-minded political parties need Lone’s certificate on their commitment to fight for the restoration of Article 370.

“In fact, he (Lone) needs to come clear on his deserting of the cause and subsequent unabashed lapping up with the RSS in Pahalgam recently,” the joint statement said.

Reiterating the party’s stand on restoration of “abridged democratic and constitutional rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”, it said the NC never claimed a national consensus on restoration of Articles 370 and 35A.

“There are parties who support our stand but others who do not and we continue to engage with all of them to convince them,” the NC leaders said.

They said it is unacceptable to be lectured by a party led by an individual who left the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) and abandoned the struggle against the Centre’s August 5, 2019 decision to abrogate the provisions of Articles 370 and 35A and bifurcate the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into Union territories.

“His (Lone’s) dithering approach gives slip to his dishonesty about the cause. He has never been honest either to his supporters or the general public. His singular act of deserting the PAGD was the biggest blow to the unity that had been forged to fight for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s dignity. He has been rewarded for this by being invited to the high table of RSS-backed conferences in Jammu and Kashmir,” they said.