New Delhi: Senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha on Thursday, dealing a setback to Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti as she battles to contain unrest in the Kashmir valley.

“...My soul is crying for the people of my homeland. My conscience cannot take it any longer," said Karra, a former leader of the PDP, as protests over the killing of militant leader Burhan Wani entered the 69th day.

“I have decided to disassociate myself from the primary membership of the PDP and from the membership of the Parliament to which I was elected from the Srinagar parliamentary constituency in 2014 on PDP ticket," Karra told reporters in Srinagar.

Karra is among the founding members of the PDP and served as finance minister in the first cabinet led by chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who died in January.

“Tariq Hameed Karra has been a a vocal critic of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti from the beginning. There is a section within the PDP which is opposed to the leadership of the chief minister. The resignation of Karra was expected and the party was aware that he would resign at some point," said a senior PDP leader based in Srinagar.

Karra served as the general secretary of the PDP when it was launched in 1999. Sayeed was its first president, and Mehbooba Mufti and Muzaffar Hussain Baig were vice presidents.

The unrest in Kashmir followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on 8 July.

Violent clashes between security forces and protesters have continued for 69 days in which nearly 80 people have been killed.

The former PDP leader pointed out that Sayeed had formed the PDP to safeguard lives, property, honour, dignity, self-respect and political aspirations of the people of the state.

“But in the present tragic circumstances, (PDP) made a U-turn... I feel still continuing with them would be equally subscribing to the administratively inhuman and politically unethical blunders," he said.

To be sure, the former PDP leader was among the few leaders in the party who were unhappy with Mehbooba Mufti taking over as chief minister after her father’s death.

Karra also said that PDP was formed to act as a buffer between the centre and state. “The launch of this new political dispensation was on the premise as facilitators rather than collaborators or obstructionists for the permanent, peaceful and everlasting resolution of Kashmir issue."

“I was forcefully consistent on it so that PDP’s buffer character would be saved which had blood and sweat of thousands of dedicated and selfless workers in it," Karra said.

PTI contributed to this story.