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Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday said his fight to ensure justice to the people of Jammu and Kashmir will continue till his last breath as he called for united efforts to bring down the "walls of hatred" for prosperity and development.
Azad dismissed the remarks of Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari that he had voted for the abrogation of Article 370 in Parliament on August 5, 2019, as a deliberate attempt to "mislead the public" due to growing support of the people and leaders for him.
"My fight for people to ensure justice to them will continue till my last breath," he said addressing a public rally, his first in Jammu after ending the five-decade-long association with the Congress.
Thousands of his supporters including several former ministers and legislators accorded a warm welcome to Azad at the Jammu Airport and the venue of the public meeting, amid high pitch sloganeering in his favour.
"We need support from each other. We have to get united and bring down the sand walls of hatred and move ahead on the path of development and prosperity together," Azad said during his over hour-long speech.
He said the majority of the Congress leaders have left the party voluntarily in his support.
"All the leaders who are present (on the dias) have not asked me before sending their resignations (to the party leadership). They submitted their resignation and then informed me about it," Azad said, adding "95 percent former Congress ministers, 95 percent legislators, 99 percent District and Block Development council members from every nook and corner" are present here.
Prominent among those present included former deputy chief minister Tara Chand, former ministers G M Saroori, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Taj Mohiuddin, R S Chib, Abdul Majid Wani, Manohar Lal Sharma and Gharu Ram.
Former legislators Balwan Singh, Mohd Amin Bhat, Jugal Kishore, Haji Abdul Rashid, Choudhary Mohd Akram and Gulzar Ahmad Wani also attended the rally besides PDP's Syed Bashir and Apni Party's Shoaib Lone.
"This is just a beginning, let us see what happens next," Azad said.
Without naming Bukhari, he said two former ministers and three MLAs left to join hands with him to form the Apni party two years ago. "We neither talked about them nor the party but he (Bukhari) made a comment which shows his frustration."
Bukhari on Friday said Azad, the former Rajya Sabha MP, might have defended Article 370 in Parliament and "even tore his shirt but let me tell the truth that Azad sahab voted for the abrogation of Article 370".
"My speech in Parliament (on abrogation of Article 370) is on record. I was in Parliament otherwise I too would have been jailed like other chief ministers but still I made two attempts to visit Srinagar and Jammu.
"I mobilised opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi who accepted my request but again we were not allowed. I did not kept mum, knocked the door of Supreme Court which allowed me to visit Jammu, Anantnag, Srinagar and BaramullaI reported everything to the apex court," Azad said.
"If anyone says I have done nothing, he should tell the people what he had done, other than trying to mislead the public."
He said he is in Jammu and Kashmir for the next fortnight and will spend four days in Jammu to meet various delegations from Monday before moving to Doda, Inderwal and Kishtwar in the Chenab valley and then to Kashmir.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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First Published: Sun, September 04 2022. 20:37 IST