Meeting on JK important step towards UT’s development, progress: PM

Srinagar, June 24: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir was an important step in the ongoing efforts towards a developed and progressive J&K, where all-round growth is furthered. 

The Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting today with leaders of various political parties of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Detailed discussions were done on strengthening democracy in Jammu & Kashmir.  

In the backdrop of establishment of three tier Panchayati Raj System with the election and constitution of Block and District Development Councils, there were detailed deliberations on how to give further fillip to the democratic process in Jammu & Kashmir.  Leaders of various Political parties shared their views on the way forward in this regard. 

They also expressed their commitment to the constitution and strengthening democracy.

In a series of tweets after the meeting, the Prime Minister said.

“Our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and JK gets an elected Government that gives strength to J&K’s development trajectory.

The Prime Minister also appreciated the cordial atmosphere of talks and the frank exchange of views. 

He stressed that our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. 

He further said that 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.

The PM 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.

The Prime Minister also expressed satisfaction at the progress of development projects in J&K. 

He urged all the leaders to work together for the progress of J&K and to realize the aspirations of youth.

He said, “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.”

A senior political leader present in the meeting said that the Prime Minister told all party members that he wants to remove “Dilli ki Doori as well as Dil Ki Doori” and assured them of the restoration of full statehood to JK at an appropriate time. 

The Prime Minister urged the parties to get on board with delimitation or the redrawing of assembly constituencies to enable elections, he said.

The senior functionary said the PM assured them that the elections can happen soon after delimitation and most participants expressed willingness on it.

During the three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, almost all the 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir demanded that its statehood, which was removed in August 2019, should be restored, he said.

People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig said the main focus of the meeting was to strengthen the democratic process and the prime minister said that the government was fully committed to it.

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 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Modi stressed that holding assembly elections, just like the successful conduct of the District Development Council polls, is a priority and that the polls can happen soon after the delimitation exercise, the sources said, adding that by and large most participants expressed willingness for it.

The prime minister stressed that an atmosphere of safety and security needs to be ensured for all sections of society in Jammu and Kashmir and he wanted to remove ‘Dilli ki Duri as well as ‘Dil Ki Duri’ (distance from Delhi as well as distance of heart), according to the sources.

“The meeting was very cordial and very positive, very dignified. We all agreed that we must work for democracy. The prime minister has assured that he will do everything to make Jammu and Kashmir a zone of peace rather than a zone of conflict,” Baig told reporters after the meeting.

Baig said the government side conveyed that the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held after the completion of the ongoing delimitation process.

“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,” he said.

However, he said, no time frame has been given on holding the polls.

“Almost everyone at the meeting raised the demand for restoration of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding the prime minister carefully listened to every issue raised by the political leaders.

The four former chief ministers of the erstwhile state who participated in the discussions were Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.

Four former deputy chief ministers were in attendance too – Congress’ Tara Chand, People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig and BJP’s Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.

CPI-M leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference, J-K Congress head G A Mir, BJP’s Ravinder Raina and Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh also formed part of the delegation. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, and Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh were in attendance too.

Today’s dialogue came seven months after the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

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