As we near August 5, rumours began to swirl in the valley that the government is up to something, probably further bifurcating the union territory and the heavy paramilitary deployment poses an assurance to the public, according to many reports. It is not the fault of the people, in August 2019, the government simulated a terrorist threat to shut the valley completely deploying heavy troops. And on August 5, the rumours of the government planning to abrogate Article 370 whirling around turned true. Now again the news of “some drastic change” is making its way around in the erstwhile state Jammu and Kashmir.
Amidst this comes the flying invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the top leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, the first after the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 to understand the minds of the leaders of the Valley. The meeting could be called an ice-breaking session post-August 5, 2019, when Jammu and Kashmir has ripped off the special status and was bifurcated into two Union Territories. With it, the BJP not only fulfilled its manifesto promises but seemingly strived its core ideology of Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan and Ek Pradhan (One Flag, One Constitution and One Head of State).
14 leaders from both Jammu and Kashmir regions including four former chief ministers and deputy chief ministers attended the meeting in the national capital. Farooq Abdullah(President of National Conference), Ghulam Nabi Azad(Senior Congress leader), Mehbooba Mufti(People’s Democratic Party president), Omar Abdullah(Vice-president of National Conference), Kavinder Gupta(Senior BJP leader), Muzaffar Hussain Baig(People’s Conference leader), Nirmal Singh(Senior BJP leader), Tara Chand(Senior Congress leader), Mohd Altaf Bukhari(J&K Apni Party chief), Sajad Gani Lone(People’s Conference president), Ravinder Raina(J&K BJP president), Gulam Ahmed Mir( J&K Congress chief), Mohd Yousuf Tarigami(Senior CPI(Marxist) leader) and Bhim Singh( Chief patron of J&K Panthers Party) attended the meeting.
Representing the central government, Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, Lieutenant Governor, Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, NSA, Ajit Doval, Minister of State (PMO) Jitendra Singh and senior officials attended the meeting.
Today’s meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir is an important step in the ongoing efforts towards a developed and progressive J&K, where all-round growth is furthered. pic.twitter.com/SjwvSv3HIp— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 24, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the high-level meeting with leaders of various political parties of Jammu and Kashmir had detailed discussions on strengthening democracy in Jammu & Kashmir. In the backdrop of the establishment of the 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.
PM Modi stressed that the priority is to strengthen “grassroots democracy in J&K.” He added 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.
Our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. 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. pic.twitter.com/AEyVGQ1NGy— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 24, 2021
Union Home Minister Amit Shah who had earlier dubbed the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) as ‘Gupkar Gang’ addressed the political leaders of J&K and said that J&K has come a long way with a major boost to development along with transparency. Around 90% saturation has been achieved in individual beneficiary Central Government schemes in J&K. Several major road projects, two new AIIMS, 7 new Medical Colleges are being set up. New industrial policy has been notified Rs. 28,400 crore package to accelerate industrial growth in J&K with creation of 4.5 lakh jobs.
Furthermore, the Home Minister emphasized that the delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring statehood as promised in parliament.
The leaders of various political parties from J&K shared their views on the way forward in this regard.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad deliberated on raising five main points — full statehood, election, domicile laws including protection of jobs and land, the release of political detainees and of course, rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) with dignity and honour.
All political parties from the valley affirmed the restoration of Article 370, special status and full statehood but the Centre put the ball in the Supreme Court where the issue is to be settled.
However, the road is long and to fulfil the commitment to the constitution and strengthening democracy, the centre and the government of J&K need to meet and move ahead in consistently keeping in mind the faith and trust of the people in mind.
After the meeting, Prime Minister said that the aim was to not only remove ‘Dilli Ki Doori’ (distance from Delhi) but also ‘Dil Ki Doori’ (Distance from heart) to which Omar Abdullah said neither ‘Dil nor Dilli ki doori’ will end in one meeting.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Muzaffair Baig spoke of the meeting being held in cordial and dignified surroundings. However, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti further spoke of initiating dialogue with Pakistan for peace and prosperity in the region.
People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone spoke of emotional bonding between the prime minister and leaders who attended the meeting. J&K Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari said the prime minister asked all parties to participate in the delimitation exercise. BJP leaders Ravinder Raina and Nirmal Singh spoke of the prime minister’s commitment to the restoration of statehood and election after the delimitation process.
The fruits of the cordial high-level meeting attempting to ‘Dil Ki Doori’ will be seen in the near future when the real stakeholders of the meeting — the people of the valley’s interest and demand are being taken care of.