Farooq Abdullah with others during an all-party meeting at his residence, in Jammu | PTI
Jammu: National Conference President Farooq Abdullah on Saturday chaired a meeting with leaders of more than a dozen parties which culminated with the decision to meet the Election Commission in Delhi for an early assembly election in Jammu & Kashmir and restoration of its statehood.
The three-hour-long meeting, which was held at Abdullah's residence here, also ended with a decision to meet national leaders from the Opposition camp in Delhi to seek their assistance in restoring democracy in the Union Territory.
"The meeting was convened to discuss the prevailing situation, unrest among the people and discuss future course of action. All leaders put forth their view point and it was unanimously decided that we will go to Delhi and meet the national leaders to brief them about the issues being faced by the people.
"We will brief them and seek their help in restoration of full statehood and democratically elected government. The Prime Minister and Union Home Minister say there is peace, if this is true, then why do they not hold the assembly election?" Abdullah told reporters after the meeting.
"The last assembly elections in J&K took place in 2014 and there is a Supreme Court ruling that the polls must be be held within six months of dismissal of an elected government. People want a popular government back in place," he said.
Referring to the anti-encroachment drive and imposition of property tax, he said an extraordinary situation prevails in J&K where orders are passed in night by the Lt Governor Administration and implemented the next day.
"We want a popular government and statehood. Not a truncated statehood but a powerful statehood like every other state has a right to. This is for the first time in the history of the nation that a proud state has been reduced to a UT, a tragedy for the nation," Abdullah said.
He said J&K is an integral part of the nation and not separate.
Asked whether they will meet the Prime minister and home minister during their visit to the national capital, he said it will be decided later.
"After returning from Delhi, we will meet here (in Jammu) again and a similar exercise will be held in Kashmir to chalk out the future course of action," he said.
Abdullah condemned the lathicharge on the job aspirants protesting against the hiring of a previously blacklisted company by the administration to conduct computer-based written tests.
He said LG administration is not a people's government and neither the LG nor his officers has any stake to face the public in elections.
The leader also accused the BJP of fanning communal fire and dividing people on religious lines.
"Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope in J&K at the time of partition when entire country was engulfed in communal violence. We are proud that the communal brotherhood still prevails in J&K, which is secular, and will remain so," he said.
Asked whether Democratic Azad Party chairman and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was also invited to the meeting, he said "doors are open for everyone."
CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said the meeting was a message to the people that all of them are united and will not let them down.
"Our message to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh is that there were attempts to divide us and break our ranks but we are united and will not let you down. We have come together to safeguard the constitution and strengthen democracy," Tarigami said.
Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani, PDP leader Amrik Singh Reen, National Panthers Party leader Harsh Dev Singh, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and district development council member T S Tony, Dogra Sadar Sabha president Gulchain Singh Charak, Shiv Sena (UTB) leader Manish Sahni and mission statehood president Sunil Dimple were among the leaders present in the meet. PTI