This is to convey the message that local leadership is unwanted, says PDP’s Waheed Parra

J&K’s regional parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have claimed that none of their top leaders was invited to the Independence Day functions, including the ‘At-Home’ event in Srinagar, presided by newly-appointed Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

“There was no invitation extended to our top leaders, former Ministers or legislators. This reflects arrogance… The act of not inviting us is to convey that local leadership is unwanted,” PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is under a house detention, told The Hindu over the phone.

“There is a move by bureaucrats and police officers to stop any dialogue or a political process from taking shape,” he added.

‘Invitations sent’

On August 15, Lt. Sinha addressed an I-Day function in Srinagar, but no one from the NC, the PDP, the Peoples Conference, the CPI(M), the J&K Peoples Movement or the Awami National Conference, among others, was present. However, BJP leaders and its former legislators did attend it.

Government sources said invitations were sent to all MPs from Kashmir for both the events.

The spokesmen of the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Conference (PC) of Sajad Lone confirmed that none of their top leaders was invited.

“It’s an irony that the BJP leaders were allowed to celebrate August 5 and August 15 despite a curfew, but other parties are not allowed to even sit down to have a dialogue,” NC Member of Parliament Hasnain Masoodi said.

“But we were not allowed to go anywhere on August 15. There was a direction to my driver and the escort not to move around on that day. This was to discourage our attendance,” Mr. Masoodi said.

Lt. Governor’s ‘At-Home’

None of the five MPs or leaders from the NC, the PDP and the PC attended the Lt. Governor’s ‘At-Home’ function either.

“We do not expect invitations from a regime that detained a five-time Chief Minister and an ex-Foreign Minister. We have been maintaining that just changing faces in J&K does not matter unless the policy changes. The August 5 episode of last year neither was nor is in the interest of the country. There is a deep sense of disapproval for it,” Mr. Masoodi added.

A Raj Bhawan spokesman said the ‘At-Home’ was attended by Chief Justice Gita Mittal, judges, advisors to the Lt. Governor, Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Lieutenant General B.S Raju, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh and former legislators, mainly from the BJP.

In fact, Mr. Sinha also met the families of two BJP leaders who were killed by militants.

“J&K’s regional mainstream parties have lost over 7,000 of their workers in the past three decades fighting for upholding democratic values. It seems the J&K administration wants to remember and acknowledge the sacrifices of just one party,” said Mr. Parra.

The Hindu approached the J&K administration for their version but is yet to get a reply.

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