New Delhi: For the first time, the National Conference-People’s Democratic Party brand of politics in the Kashmir is under serious threat. And the threat comes not from without, but within as the Jammu Kashmir Awami Forum (JKAF) has de-hyphenated Articles 370 and 35A from the political narrative of the Valley.

Dealing a formidable challenge to the anti-BJP anti-Centre pro-separatist narrative-building of Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, the newly-formed political outfit has taken a nationalistic pro-India stand. It announced that it is not concerned with Articles 370 and 35A that award special status to the “residents” of the state as has been narrowly defined to exclude a vast majority.

“I want to say that Article 370 and Article 35A are not cardinal to the existence of Jammu and Kashmir. We are more concerned about the youth of the state. We must strive to bring succour and happiness to the youth. We must be more concerned about peace in the state. After elections I will move the Centre to demand that youths who are in prison and have not been charged with heinous crimes or any crime at all must be released,” Farooq Ahmad, the JKAF president said. 

Earlier, the pro-India anti-separatist outfit had announced its decision to contest all the Assembly seats in the state apart from three terror-infested Parliamentary seats in the Kashmir Valley — Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag.

Also read: Gujjar-Bakarwals, Pahadi communities throw in weight behind anti-separatist J&K Awami Forum for 2019 polls

Even as new to the state politics, the party has garnered support from the Gujjar- Bakarwals, the Pahadi forum, along with several civil society organisations have pledged their support for its candidates.

The new party has already proved its credential among the voters at the grassroots. It had contested the panchayat elections in the state, mostly in the terror-afflicted south Kashmir region, in which 1,072 of their candidates got elected.

Two years back, the founders of this party were behind Art of Living patron Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's ‘Paigam-e-Mohabbat’ event, from where the inspiration for a pro-India party took root.