Want democratic process to go on: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Delimitation, restoration of statehood discussed at J&K all-party meet

In the first all-party meeting involving leaders from Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the Centre is fully committed to the democratic process in J&K, and holding Assembly elections in the region just like the successful conduct of the District Development Council (DDC) polls is a priority. Delimitation, roadmap for Assembly polls, restoration of statehood and bringing back Kashmiri Pandits were the key issues discussed in the crucial all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir that was chaired by Prime Minister Modi and involved leaders from different political parties in J&K.

The meeting lasted for more than three-and-a-half hours with nobody raising cross-border issues, sources said. In the first such meeting held nearly two years after the erstwhile state of J&K lost its special status and was bifurcated into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — the PM heard all the inputs put forward by the participants and expressed happiness over everyone sharing their frank and honest views. It was an open discussion which revolved around building a better future for Kashmir with the main focus on strengthening the democratic process in J&K.

Restoration of statehood in Jammu and Kashmir, Assembly elections, domicile rules, bringing back Kashmir Pandits and release of political prisoners were among the five key demands raised by the Congress, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the marathon meeting. The President of Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, Altaf Bukhari, said that each speaker was heard patiently by the Prime Minister and the major discussions were related to the delimitation process and elections in the erstwhile state.

It was proposed that the elections could take place soon after the delimitation process, to which most of participants agreed.

The PM emphasised the need to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level and work together with the people of J&K to ensure their upliftment. He expressed happiness on the commitment to the Constitution and democracy espoused by all the participants and said that even one death in J&K is painful and “it is our collective duty to protect our younger generation”.

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