Kashmir’s political parties unite to fight for return of autonomy

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Kashmir’s main political parties have announced a grand alliance to seek a peaceful restoration of its autonomy days after India released the last key Kashmiri political leader from a lengthy detention.

“Our battle is a constitutional battle. We want the government of India to return to the people of the state [of Kashmir] the rights they held before August 5th, 2019,” Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, said on Thursday.

Abdullah was talking to reporters after a meeting of the disputed region’s main parties – the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, the People’s Conference, the Awami National Conference and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – was held at his residence in the main city of Srinagar.

On Tuesday, the government ordered the release of another former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti after a 14-month detention and she and other leaders promptly called for a campaign to restore Indian-administered Kashmir’s special rights.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the Muslim-majority region’s special status last year, cracked down on opposition and rounded up hundreds of people to forestall protests.

Modi’s government said at the time that ending Kashmir’s special status was necessary for closer integration of the Himalayan mountain territory into the rest of India.

After revoking Kashmir’s autonomy, the New Delhi government imposed a communication blackout with mobiles phones, internet links and landlines cut as part of its crackdown.

Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, also a former chief minister, were released by authorities earlier this year.

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