Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 24
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired the crucial all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir with Home Minister Amit Shah and JK LG Manoj Sinha in attendance.
Fourteen leaders of mainstream J-K mainstream parties arrived at the PM’s residence to attend the meeting with everyone having welcomed the resumption of talks—the first outreach by the Centre since the Abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into the UTs of JK and Ladakh.
The meeting that ended after three-and-a-half hours had no specific agenda, with leaders free to raise what they want.
Before entering the meeting, Chairman of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah again hailed the PM’s initiative and distanced himself from PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that the Centre should also talk to Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
“I don’t want to talk about Pakistan. I will talk to my own Prime Minister,” Abdullah said when asked what he thought of Mufti’s remarks being her ally in the PAGD.
Abdullah said Mufti has her agenda and party and he, in the NC, had his separate agenda.
“The meeting is a very welcome step, much needed for easing tensions in JK. We are going with an open mind,” he said.
The meeting is being attended by four former CMs Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti; four former JK deputy CMs Nirmal Singh, Kavinder Gupta, Tara Chand, Muzaffar Baig present along with chiefs of mainstream JK parties including state Congress president GA Mir, BJP state chief Ravinder Raina, JK Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh, Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari, People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone.
The Congress and PAGD have sought restoration of JK statehood ahead of the meeting with Abdullah saying the alliance would disclose what it raised once the meeting concluded.
The government meanwhile is expected to hear all parties first and then impress upon the critical importance of the ongoing delimitation in JK.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said during the last Parliament session that the election in JK will be held once the
The delimitation exercise is over and the EC declares elections.
On statehood, Home Minister Amit Shah has said it will be restored at an appropriate time.
Kashmir parties have been wary of the delimitation and feel it’s an attempt to alter the demography of the area and undermine the significance of the Valley in the overall electoral process.
NC had boycotted the first meet of the delimitation commission in February this year saying it cannot participate in the exercise that flows from the JK Reorganisation Act which it has challenged in the apex court.
Twenty-two petitions against the law (passed by Parliament on August 5, 2019 bifurcating the state and abrogating special status) are pending hearing before a constitution bench of the SC.