The first-ever meeting between political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and the Centre after the abrogation of the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 ended on the expected lines, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the parties to get on board with delimitation to enable Assembly elections. What clearly emerged after June 24 meeting in New Delhi is that there has been no change in the stance of the BJP government over its momentous decision of August 5, 2019.
On the day when Article 370 was revoked and the state was bifurcated into two Union Territories – J&K and Ladakh – Union Home Minister Amit Shah while announcing the colossal move in Parliament said the statehood will be restored at an “appropriate time.” And since then, the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders have been repeating it, but without any time frame. At the June 24 meeting also, Modi again said that the Centre was committed to restoring statehood to J&K, but not before the delimitation of constituencies and Assembly polls.
Fourteen mainstream Jammu and Kashmir leaders from eight political parties, including four Chief Ministers, attended the three-hour meeting aimed at getting the political process back on course in the region after it lost its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution in 2019 and was downgraded from a state to two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
“The main focus of the meeting was to strengthen the democratic process. PM said that we are fully committed to the democratic process in J&K. He stressed that the holding assembly elections just like the successful District Development Council elections is a priority,” government sources said to NDTV.
Although it being portrayed that most Kashmiri leaders were satisfied with the process discussed in the meeting but former Chief Ministers of J&K Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti stated otherwise to the reporters.
Omar Abdullah told reporters that “almost all leaders” were unhappy with delimitation only in Jammu and Kashmir. “In other states, delimitation will be taken up in 2026, why has been Jammu and Kashmir been singled out? We told the PM delimitation is not needed,” said the former Chief Minister, adding that “trust has broken between the Centre and Kashmir”. “We will struggle for 370, be it months or years. We didn’t get this (special status) from Pakistan, but from India, Nehru. There can be no compromise on this,” Ms Mufti said after the meeting.