Senior Congress Leader and the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad met National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah, who was released from home detention after seven months, and demanded that all detained leaders from Jammu and Kashmir be freed and democracy restored.
After a two-hour meeting with Abdullah at the latter”s residence in Gupkar area of the city here this afternoon, the Congress general secretary told reporters that for the progress of Jammu and Kashmir, its leaders should be released and “not kept in cages like a parrot”.
Calling for release of all other leaders and individuals, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, to restart the political process in J-K, Azad said elections should be held and statehood restored to Jammu and Kashmir.
He was dismissive of the recently floated Jammu Kashmir Apni Party led by former finance minister Altaf Bukhari, saying J-K cannot be run through “agency created parties”.
Azad said he met Abdullah on behalf of his party as well as all those MPs and parties who have been raising their voice inside Parliament and outside for the release of J-K leaders.
“First and foremost, democracy should be restored in J-K for any political process to start,” Azad said.
Asked about the demand for restoration of Article 370, the Congress leader said, “Let us go one by one… Let democracy be restored. First, let this happen, then that (Article 370)”.
“Let us first restore democracy and democracy can be restored once all the leaders who are behind bars either in jails or in guest houses or under particular Act, they have to be released first. Let the political process start first.
“Let every individual of J-K be released from the jail. Let democracy prevail first and then we can pick up other fights,” he said.
Azad, who is also a former chief minister of J-K, said the political process should be started soon.
“J-K is the country”s largest state. In 1947, 560 states were merged to form 12 states, but J-K was the only state in India which was not joined by any other state as it was large enough.
“It is disrespectful and disgraceful for the people of J-K that it was changed to a Union Territory. I want that the leaders be released sooner and J-K be changed to a state.
“Political process is a basic right in a democracy. India is not known for its size world over, but for its democracy. But, not this democracy where three former chief ministers are jailed for several months or another ex-chief minister has to come here with the Supreme Court”s permission.
“When CMs, MPs, ministers MLAs, MLCs are in jail, then where is the democracy?” he said.
Azad said for the development of Jammu and Kashmir, it is necessary that the political process is started.
“If J-K has to progress and move forward and if we have to bring prosperity in J-K, then its key lies not in keeping leaders in a cage like a parrot, but in releasing them and starting a political process by which elections are conducted here. Whichever government is elected by the people of J-K, that will work on the development of J-K,” he said.