J&K statehood will be restored
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a three-hour meeting with 14 political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, reportedly assured that he was committed to restoring statehood to the region.
The crucial meeting, the first such outreach by the government since the abrogation of J&K's special status, was also attended by Union home minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha.
The government sources said that Modi patiently heard out suggestions and inputs from all participants and expressed happiness that everyone shared their frank and honest views.
The sources said it was discussed that elections in J&K can happen soon after the delimitation process and that most of the participants expressed willingness for it.
"It was an open discussion which revolved around building a better future for Kashmir," they said.
Sources said the main focus of the meeting was to strengthen the democratic process.
"PM Modi said that we are fully committed to the democratic process in J&K. He stressed that the holding assembly elections just like the successful conduct of DDC elections is a priority," they said.
National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said his party told the leaders that the trust between the Centre and state was broken with the scrapping of Article 370, reports TNN.
Speaking about the meeting, the junior Abdullah told reporters that whatever happened in August 2019 is not acceptable and his party will fight the issue in the court.
NC chief Farooq Abdullah said that restoration of the statehood would be the first trust-building exercise from the Centre's side.
J&K Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari said that PM Modi assured during the meeting that the election process in the Union Territory will begin once the delimitation exercise concludes.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the meeting that his party raised five key demands during the discussions.
These included restoration of J&K's statehood, holding assembly elections, a guarantee on domicile and job rules, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and release of political prisoners under detention since August 5, 2019.
Officials said the Centre is keen on holding assembly elections in the union territory as early as possible, maybe in December this year or March 2022.