Centre looks to restore J&K statehood, PM to discuss roadmap at all-party meet

News18 quoted sources privy to the developments as saying that the region will be granted statehood soon as promised in the past by the Centre, however, there will be no talks on restoring its special constitutional position

FP Staff June 20, 2021 16:27:07 IST
Centre looks to restore J&K statehood, PM to discuss roadmap at all-party meet

Explained: Why Modi's meet with all J&K parties is crucial, and what's likely to be on the agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to discuss restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's statehood on 24 June when he will meet mainstream political parties for a formal dialogue.

News18 quoted sources privy to the developments as saying that the region will be granted statehood soon as promised in the past by Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, however, there will be no talks on restoring its special constitutional position.

In the meeting, Modi will discuss a blueprint to begin the political process in the Valley.

According to the sources News18 spoke to, the move might have to wait till a delimitation commission set up early last year submits its report. They said there will be no change in Ladakh's status for now.

However, sources told NDTV that the all-party meeting will focus on delimitation exercise or the process of redrawing constituencies in the Union Territory, and not the demands for restoration of statehood.

Restoration of statehood on cards?

The development assumes significance as it the first political engagement since Centre's 5 August 2019, move to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with a legislative Assembly and Ladakh without one.

The sudden move by the Centre also comes in the wake of pressure from the international community, especially the United States, to restore democratic and electoral processes in Jammu and Kashmir, which remains under the Centre's rule since 2018.

The development comes after months of strategising by National Security Adviser Ajiy Doval, who spearheaded the process and talked to separatists in the Valley in order to bring everyone on board.

By calling all stakeholders for a sit-down, the Central Government, Saturday extended an olive branch to Jammu and Kashmir's regional parties, including those whose leaders were held captive for months in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370.

The invitation has been extended to National Conference's Farooq and Omar Abdullah, Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tara Chand and GA Mir, PDP chairperson Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Conference's Sajad Gani Lone and Muzaffar Hussian Baigh, Apni Party's Altaf Bukhari, BJP's Ravinder Raina, Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta, CPM's MY Tarigami and National Panthers Party's Bheem Singh.

The Gupkar alliance, also holding a meeting in coming days, is likely to put up a joint front and a common narrative when they meet the prime minister. The alliance is for the restoration of the pre-5 August position of the region.

In February, 2021 the Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, an independent body co-chaired by former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur said in a report that rights violation continue in the erstwhile state – 18 months after the abrogation of its special status under Article 370.

Why is the all-party meet with PM significant for J&K politics?

The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was placed under President's Rule after the BJP ended its alliance with Mehbooba Mufti in June 2018. There has been no political process since then, barring the local body polls — the Block Development Council polls in October and the District Development Council polls in December 2020.

Dialogue between Valley's mainstream politicians and New Delhi have all but remained frozen in the wake of their unceremonious arrests and prolonged detention after the August 2019 decision.

As a result, the political mainstream of the region, especially those having a strong base in Kashmir Valley, have been critical of successive administrations of the Union Territory for neglecting the demands of the people and raising questions on the development slogan raised post-August 2019.

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