Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with 14 leaders, including four former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, to chalk out the future course of action in the union territory. This is the first interaction between the Central leadership and the mainstream parties since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370.
At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Jammu and Kashmir leaders in Delhi on Thursday, National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah urged him to restore full statehood for the Union Territory.
“We told the PM that we don't stand with what was done on 5th Aug 2019 (revocation of special status under Article 370). We're not ready to accept it. But we won't take the law into our hands. We'll fight this in court,” Abdullah told news agency ANI.
He added that there's been a breach of trust between state and Centre and its duty to restore it.
The NC leader’s comment comes after the Central government's first outreach to Jammu and Kashmir's political leadership in almost two years. PM Modi held a crucial meeting with 14 leaders, including four former chief ministers, to chalk out the future course of action in the union territory.
Meanwhile, PM Modi called today’s meeting an important step in the ongoing efforts towards a developed and progressive J&K, where all-round growth is furthered.
"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," Modi tweeted after the meeting.
Our democracy’s biggest strength is the ability to sit across a table and exchange views. I told the leaders of J&K that it is the people, specially the youth who have to provide political leadership to J&K, and ensure their aspirations are duly fulfilled. pic.twitter.com/t743b0Su4L
Following the high-level meeting, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been facing a lot of difficulties since August 5, 2019. She said that the people were angry, upset, emotionally shattered and felt humiliated.
“I told the PM that people of J&K don't accept the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated unconstitutionally, illegally and immorally,” Mufti told ANI.
Ghulam Nabi Azad said that almost 80% of parties spoke about Article 370 during the meeting but the matter is sub judice in court. “Our demands included full-fledged statehood soon, elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, all political detainees to be released and land, employment guarantee,” he said.
BJP’s Nirmal Singh, however, said that almost all political parties came to a consensus that there should be peace in J&K and a government should be elected there democratically. He said that the prime minister has appealed to all the leaders that there would be peace only when everyone works together.
This is the first interaction between the Central leadership and the mainstream parties since August 5, 2019, when the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and bifurcated it into two unions territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Officials had earlier said the Centre is keen on holding assembly elections in the union territory as early as possible, maybe in December this year or March 2022 after the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (retd) Ranjana Desai completes its task of redrawing constituencies in the next few months.
The Commission was granted one year's extension in March this year. BJP's Jammu and Kashmir unit president Raina said Thursday's interaction convened by the prime minister is in accordance with the wishes of heads of various political parties who have been seeking time from him for a long time.
The meeting seems to be the result of the back-channel talks held with all the parties from the union territory to chart out a roadmap.
The Union Home Minister, while tabling the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 in Parliament, had given an assurance that the Centre would grant full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir at an appropriate time.
Today's dialogue comes seven months after the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The PAGD had surged ahead of the BJP and its allies, including the JKAP, by bagging 110 seats out of 280 with the National Conference emerging stronger with 67 seats within the alliance. The BJP was the single largest party with 75 seats.