Several People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leaders on Monday said that they will observe August 5 as “black day” and stage peaceful protests. The leaders demanded restoration of the special status of J&K which was abrogated last year by the central government.

Addressing a press conference here, the PDP leaders said that 5 August 2019 was the “darkest day” in the history of J&K, which they would observe as “black day”.

Additional spokesperson, PDP, Harbaksh Singh said it was important to highlight as to how the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A has affected J&K residents. “A democratic onslaught on the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh was carried out last year. It was a betrayal that both our special status and a separate flag was snatched away in just a matter of a few hours,” Singh said.

“Despite all odds, we have decided to observe August 5 as a black day and hold peaceful protests on this day,” Singh said.

Singh said: “The biggest issue is that losing the special status was not just a matter of jobs and land, but our identity. As a party we stand by the ‘Gupkar Declaration’ in which all the parties had vowed to protect the special status of J&K.”

PDP secretary, Abdul Hameed Kohseen said: “Our leader Mehbooba Mufti is still in jail. Others who were released are still under house arrest. This has not happened with other parties. We are being punished for our agenda but we will continue to speak up against it.”

Senior PDP leader, Rouf Bhat said that the clampdown witnessed after abrogation of Article 370 “derailed Kashmir economy and day-to-day life in the Valley.”

Bhat said the objective of PDP’s protest on August 5 is to highlight the impact of abrogation of Article 370 on J&K and how it was done. “Our special rights were taken away on this day and we condemn this act. We will hold sit-in protest while maintaining social distancing and mark it as a black day and our demand to the centre is the special status be restored and all political prisoners released,” Bhat said, adding that that was the only way for revival of a political process in J&K and “a way by which peace can prevail”.

PDP Youth Secretary, Arif Laigroo said that for last one year several PDP leaders including former MLAs and ministers have been put in house detention. “Almost 15 of our leaders are not allowed to move out of their homes,” Laigroo said.

Among others present at the press conference were Haji Parvez Ahmed, Abdul Gani Naseem, Dr Ali Muhammad and several PDP zonal presidents from Srinagar, Ganderbal, Kangan, Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore.