Almost two years since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to chair a meeting with all the mainstream political parties of the region on Thursday.
Fourteen leaders from regional powerhouses such as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC), as well as those from the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, among others, have been invited for the talks.
Four former chief ministers of the erstwhile state, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, are among those invited. Most of the leaders arrived in the national capital on Wednesday evening.
CNN-News18 had earlier reported that Modi will discuss restoring Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood when he meets the mainstream parties — a significant milestone that India’s top leadership has set its eyes on after months of strategising by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. The meeting will also discuss a blueprint to begin the political process in the Valley.
On August 5, 2019, the central government withdrew J&K’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union Territories — J&K with a legislative assembly and Ladakh without one. The historic move led to the imposition of restrictions on several political leaders and activists in the Kashmir Valley. Gradually, authorities lifted the curbs and released politicians under detention.
Thursday’s meeting is also significant as it is being viewed as the beginning of direct talks between the Valley’s leadership and the Centre at this scale. This is also the first meeting between PM Modi and the J-K parties after the scrapping of Article 370.
Ahead of the all-party meet, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said peace in the region cannot be restored without undoing the “illegal” and “unconstitutional” act of revocation of J-K’s special status.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a meeting of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), she said during the talks with the prime minister, she will press for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which was “snatched away from us”.
The PAGD was formed with the objective to restore Jammu and Kashmir to its position that existed before the scrapping of Article 370.
Mehbooba, who was flanked by other leaders of the alliance, including its chairperson Farooq Abdullah, said the Centre should hold dialogue with everyone, including Pakistan, to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Ahead of the talks, Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday issued an alert in the union territory following a series of attacks in the Valley.
The J-K Police issued the alert, warning that “anti-national” elements may attempt to “hit soft targets to create a hype”.