After around three-hour-long talks with Jammu and Kashmir political leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said delimitation has to happen at quick pace so that polls can happen. “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,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
After the meeting, where the demand for J&K’s statehood was raised by many, Union Minister Amit Shah said delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring the same. “We are committed to ensure all round development of J&K… the delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring statehood as promised in parliament,” Shah tweeted.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said five demands –– granting of statehood, conducting Assembly elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in J&K, release of all political detainees and that on domicile rules –– were put forward during their talks with the PM.
Terming the meeting “cordial” and “positive”, People’s Conference leader Muzzafar Hussain Baig said PM Modi assured that he will do everything to make Jammu and Kashmir a zone of peace rather than conflict. “All leaders demanded statehood. To which PM said, the delimitation process should conclude first and then other issues will be addressed. It was a satisfactory meeting. There was complete unanimity for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” Baig added.
Ahead of the meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Congress President Ghulam Ahmad Mir said they would raise the issue of statehood at the all-party meet convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “People in the state are shocked after the developments in 2019. We’ll wait for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda for today’s meeting and respond accordingly,” he said.
Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are on high alert as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of mainstream parties in J&K, in New Delhi today.
The Centre sees the Delhi talks, the first since the stripping of the special status of J&K and its bifurcation into two Union Territories in 2019, as a significant step towards the return of elected representatives and the holding of Assembly elections subsequently in the two UTs to end Central rule imposed in June 2018.