14 political leaders from J&K invited to meeting with Modi on June 24
Srinagar: Twenty months after it unilaterally scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, the Government of India on Saturday sent out invites to J&K’s regional political parties for a meeting next week.
According to a political leader in Kashmir, he has been invited to attend a meeting, chaired by PM Modi, on June 24.
The meeting will be the first political dialogue between the BJP-led government and J&K political parties.
Fourteen leaders, including former chief ministers and party presidents, have been invited to the meeting that will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence in New Delhi on June 24. Those invited include Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah, Sajad Lone, Altaf Bukhari, Ravinder Raina, GA Mir, MY Tarigami, Bhim Singh, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Tara Chand, Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.
The meeting is expected to discuss elections to the legislative assembly of J&K, the delimitation process, and restoration of statehood to J&K. It is not known whether Article 370 is part of the agenda of the meeting.
Key political parties including National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party are expected to hold a meeting within their parties before announcing their decision.
“I am yet to take a decision. I will discuss with my party members and take a final call,” said Mehbooba after receiving the invite for the meeting. The party’s Political Affairs Committee will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide about the invite.
NC MP Hasnain Masoodi told Kashmir Reader that party president and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah received a phone call on Saturday about the meeting.
“The party is meeting on Sunday to discuss it,” he said. “Everything will be discussed. The contours of the meeting with the PM remain unknown,” he added.
Asked about the possible reason why New Delhi is holding the meeting, he cited several reasons.
“It is the realisation on their part that nothing has changed on the ground in J&K post August 5 (2019). Encounters happen, political leaders are being imprisoned, people who were elected in local body elections are not able to reach out to people. This is the same old story. There were meetings at the global levels, too, about Kashmir,” he said.
On June 9, Farooq Abdullah, who is the chief of the Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of five political parties formed for demanding restoration of Article 370 and statehood, had earlier expressed readiness to join talks if invited by New Delhi.
The BJP-led government at New Delhi has been under pressure from the Biden administration in US for restoring normalcy in J&K, including the electoral process. The erstwhile state is without an elected government since the BJP pulled the plug on its alliance with the PDP, led by Mehbooba Mufti, on June 19, 2018. Since then, J&K has been directly or indirectly ruled from New Delhi.
J&K Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari welcomed the move, saying “dialogue is the only mechanism to restore democracy and statehood for Jammu and Kashmir”.