Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

'Nationalist' JK Awami Awaaz Party That Once Unfurled National Flag At Lal Chowk Now Seeks 'Azadi'

'Nationalist' JK Awami Awaaz Party That Once Unfurled National Flag At Lal Chowk Now Seeks 'Azadi'

The JK Awami Awaaz Party has had a change of heart in the past one year. Last year, they were hoisting the national flag. Now they are seeking ‘azaadi’.

The JK Awami Awaaz Party holding a protest
The JK Awami Awaaz Party holding a protest Twitter/Awami Awaaz Party

The website of JK Awami Awaaz Party, a lesser-known political party in Kashmir, carries videos that show more than a dozen of its workers carrying the “Tiranga rally” at Lal Chowk, hoisting the national flag on Republic Day, and singing the national anthem. The party has a number of pictures on its website with its leaders holding the national flag at Lal Chowk.

But that was last year.

This year, the JK Awami Awaaz Party leaders, including President Suhail Khan, are in lock-up after they conducted a press conference on February 14 seeking a separate country, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of usurping the land of Kashmiris and trying to establish Hindu Rashtra.

“The kind of oppression inflicted on Muslims in India, no one else is facing that. Yes, we did hoist the flag last year. But then we realised what India was doing with Kashmiris when we entered politics. Now we are seeking azadi (freedom), not that we want to go with Pakistan. We want a separate country,” said Khan at the press conference, a clean-shaved man dressed in a maroon jacket and blue jeans.

He further said, “We are under Indian rule. But now we want a separate country. We should get our rights.”

The JK Awami Awaaz Party President Khan occasionally surfaces with its statements in Kashmir also hit at the government for using bulldozers on “poor people”.

“Bulldozer will go on here. Those having small land holdings will suffer. Bulldozer is on for the past two years as the Home Minister said yesterday, removing [Article] 370 was on their agenda. Now their second agenda is establishing Hindu Rashtra…There is so much oppression here that an IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan was compelled by his conscience to leave his job. He was from Kerala. He left his job as he felt Kashmiris are being oppressed,” said Khan in the February 14 press conference.

Khan accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of “taking away the land of Kashmiris”.

He said, “Any war lasts for only ten years. But Kashmir is suffering for the past 40 years. For the past 40 years, 5 lakh people have been killed. There is no value in their sacrifice. Those mothers who had no source lost their sons. 
They have agenda to demolish Muslim homes. There are few Hindu families who are also suffering. India will think it will continue to suppress people, it cannot. I am not in politics for politics. I have to save the poor.  I have seen so much oppression in Kashmir since I joined politics I am surprised.”

Khan said the government wants to crush the Muslim voice. 

“They don’t want Kashmiri, they want a land of Kashmiris,” he adds.

The JK Awami Awaaz Party also has also been protesting against the alleged disappearance of youth in the Kunan Poshpora village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district for the past few weeks. Regarding the alleged disappearance, Khan said there is no FIR in the case and no person has been arrested.

He said, “I came to know the truth. Earlier, I thought if bloodshed is taking place in Kashmir, Kashmiris are responsible for it. But I came to know those sitting in Delhi are also responsible for it. I have no trust in the administration.”

A family from the Kunan Poshpora area of Kupwara district is holding a protest at Srinagar’s Press Enclave seeking Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s intervention to get their son, Abdul Rashid Dar, released who was allegedly picked up by the Indian Army on December 15. There is allegedly no trace of him since. The police have been saying the army has been saying the youth slipped during custody when they were taking him for a raid.

“I will expose those unidentified,” said Khan.

The party leaders claimed in the press conference that their party was created by the Indian Army, a charge denied by the latter.

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah described the whole affair as “another army experiment gone, rogue!”
He said, “Yesterday’s paid nationalists are today’s “freedom fighters”.

The Army has not come up with any statement on the issue. A senior police official said three persons from the party continue to be in police custody and are being questioned.

The party’s website says JK Awami Aawaz Party was launched in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as an amalgam of nationalists, intellectuals, social activists, engineers, doctors, trade unionists, transporters, Islamic clerics, women activists, student unions, lawyer federations, etc. The website further says that the party members have affirmed to strive for National integration, “peace, brotherhood, communal harmony, development and all other issues for the betterment of inhabitants of Jammu Kashmir without consideration of Caste, creed, region, religion, sex colour and so on”.