New Delhi: Perhaps for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir, a political outfit that is anti-terrorism, anti-separatism and pro-India would be challenging for power in the upcoming Assembly elections.

The Jammu and Kashmir Awami Forum announced on Wednesday that it would contest all the Assembly as well as Parliamentary seats in the Kashmir Valley. It condemned the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, which claimed the lives of over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.

The party would give special attention to its contest against former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The political structure in Jammu and Kashmir has, for long, been polarised between the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), interspersed with separatists such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others of the Hurriyat Conference. The Jammu and Kashmir Awami Forum is expected to throw a serious challenge to the prevalent political structure in the state.  

Also read: Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir not to be held along with Lok Sabha polls

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.

After Paigam-e-Mohabbat, the Jammu and Kashmir Awami Forum started peace marches in different parts of the Valley, with calls for a violence-free, corruption-free, and addiction-free Jammu and Kashmir, all targeting Pakistan-sponsored violence and terrorism.

Also read: Mehbooba Mufti would rather agree with terror-sponsor Pakistanis than 'war mongering' Indians on IAF strike on Balakot

The forum’s president Farukh Ahmed Ganai condemned the Pulwama fiyadeen attack and appealed to the Kashmiri youth to not participate in violence.

“Kashmiri students studying in different parts of the country should continue to stay apolitical,” he said.

The vice-president of the forum lauded Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's vision.

“The so-called mainstream political parties and their dynasticism is responsible for the militancy in the state,” he said.