Restoration of pre-2019, statehood, guarantees on land, jobs among demands

Kashmir Times. Dated: 6/25/2021 1:43:51 AM

PM-J&K leaders talks: Modi non-committal, says delimitation, elections first

NEW DELHI, Jun 24: After around three-hour-long talks with Jammu and Kashmir political leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said delimitation has to happen at quick pace so that polls can happen. “Our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and J&K gets an elected Government that gives strength to J&K’s development trajectory,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
He also added that the meeting was convened to remove the distance between Delhi and Srinagar. He wants to remove "Dilli ki doori" and also "Dil ki doori."
After the meeting, where the demand for J&K’s statehood was raised by many, Union Minister Amit Shah said delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring the same. “We are committed to ensure all round development of J&K… the delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring statehood as promised in parliament,” Shah tweeted.
The meeting is an initiative of the Prime Minister, the first ever after almost two years ago when Jammu and Kashmir was demoted, bifurcated into two Union Territories, its special status revoked and the entire political leadership, barring those from the BJP, arrested or put under house-arrest.
Modi was assisted in the meeting by Home Minister Amit Shah, J&K Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, who hails from Jammu, P K Mishra, principal secretary to the PM and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.
Among those who attended the meeting, some leaders said on conditions of anonymity that no agenda had been laid down and that the 14 politicians invited by the Centre were asked to present their views. They were told that the government wanted to strengthen the democratic process and that the government was fully committed to it. Sources said that divergent views emerged at the meeting.
No consensus, however, emerged as the J&K leaders were divided on demand for restoration of pre-2019 position, full statehood as well as demand for statehood with constitutional guarantees for protecting the rights to land and jobs. It was, however, not clear whether there was no talk of continuing the process that started today.

The leaders of the Gupkar Alliance took the government head on, putting the onus of the existing trust deficit between New Delhi and Kashmir on the government and its actions since August 5, 2019. Two former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, as well as Mohd. Yusuf Tarigami are reliably learnt to have been demanding the restoration of pre-2019 position including revoking the abrogation of Article 370.
Omar Abdullah said that they would challenge the actions of 2019 both through courts and at the political level.
Mufti also echoed the views and added that the Article 370 had been revoked “constitutionally, illegally and immorally”. She said that they would fight to get it back, adding that “it is our identity”.
“What has been snatched from us, must be returned,” Tarigami said and vowed that the battle to get it would continue.
“Whatever has been done to us is not within the limits of the Constitution. Our rights, guaranteed under the provisions of the Constitution of India, have been snatched from us. We will demand the Centre and PM Modi to reconsider and restore those rights which have been guaranteed by the Constituent Assembly of India,” Tarigami said.
The PAGD leaders also highlighted the breakdown of civil liberties within Jammu and Kashmir.
The prime minister is learnt to have made no commitment on any of the demands including that of statehood but insisted that the J&K leaders participate in the Delimitation exercise and allow the elections to take place, after which the other matters would be resolved.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said five demands –– granting of statehood, conducting Assembly elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in J&K, release of all political detainees and that on domicile rules –– were put forward during their talks with the PM.
Azad, a former CM who held a meeting of the leaders at his residence here before the meeting while the state's BJP leaders had the guidelines from the party's national president Jagat Prakash Nadda, raised five demands on behalf of the Congress.
The uppermost in his demands, which was also backed by other leaders, is a constitutional guarantee to state domiciles to protect their land and employment rights. Other Congress demands were: 1. Restoration of Statehood, 2. Release of all political prisoners, 3. Conduct of the Assembly elections at the earliest and rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits.
Terming the meeting “cordial” and “positive”, People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig said PM Modi assured that he will do everything to make Jammu and Kashmir a zone of peace rather than conflict. “All leaders demanded statehood. To which PM said, the delimitation process should conclude first and then other issues will be addressed. It was a satisfactory meeting. There was complete unanimity for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” Baig added.
Baig, however, wriggled out of speaking about Article 370, averring that the matter was “sub judice” in the court.
"We were conveyed that the delimitation process will be completed first and thereafter a call will be taken on holding the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir," Baig said. However, he said, no time frame has been given on holding the polls.
"We have been assured that this is the roadmap towards elections," said J&K Apni Party's Altaf Bukhari said, adding that PM Modi said the election process will begin when delimitation process finishes.
People's Conference leader Sajjad Lone said the meeting was held in a very cordial manner and added that, "We came out quite positive that hopefully there will be some delivery for the people of Jammu and Kashmir," reports said.
"All political parties presented their opinions. I think that in the time to come, political process is going to begin. Election will also be held after the delimitation process. Assembly will be constituted there once again," Kavinder Gupta of the BJP said.
Those joining the meeting included four former deputy chief ministers -- Tara Chand of Congress, People's Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig and the BJP's Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta. Others in the meeting included CPI-M leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, J&K Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari, Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh, Sajad Lone of the People's Congress, Congress leader G A Mir and BJP's Ravinder Raina.



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