Shah, Doval, L-G meet PM ahead of crucial J-K meet

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24

Hours ahead of the crucial all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha arrived at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence here to discuss the broad outline for the conference.

Fourteen leaders of mainstream JK mainstream parties will attend the meeting and have welcomed the resumption of talks — the first outreach by the Centre since the Abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state.

In Delhi for 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 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 had 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.

Three Congress invitees to the meeting — former JK CM Ghulam Nabi Azad, former deputy CM JK Tara Chand and JK Congress chief GA Mir— met on Thursday to discuss the party’s stand in the meeting.

The Congress and PAGD have sought restoration of JK statehood.

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 J&K will be held once 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.

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