PM Modi tells J&K leader he's committed to restoring statehood, wants to remove 'Dilli ki Duri, Dil ki Duri'
Leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, who flew to New Delhi to attend the first-ever meeting after August 2019 with PM Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday, were assured that the Centre is committed to granting statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, a demand unanimously raised by all political parties of J&K. "We kept five demands in the meeting- grant statehood soon, conduct Assembly elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in J&K, all political detainees should be released and on domicile rules," Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the three-hour meeting concluded. "The Home Minister said the government is committed to granting statehood to Jammu and Kashmir," the Congress leader said.
Meeting the leaders from the Valley, PM Modi said that there would be political differences, but everyone should work in the national interest for the benefit of the people. PM Modi said there should not be 'Dil ki Duri' and 'Dilli ki Duri', news agency ANI reported, citing sources.
"Today’s meeting on Jammu and Kashmir was conducted in a very cordial environment. Everyone expressed their commitment to democracy and the constitution. It was stressed to strengthen the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir," Union minister Amit Shah said.
"We first expressed anger over how the bifurcation was done. We have said there should be development and for that statehood and elections are necessary. We said we need a guarantee that land and jobs will be protected. There should be immediate steps for the rehabilitation of Pandits," the former chief minister of the former state said.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, who earlier commented that PM Modi should speak to Pakistan too, said she told PM that J&K's people do not accept the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated. "People of J&K are in a lot of difficulties after 5th Aug 2019. They are angry, upset and emotionally shattered. They feel humiliated. I told PM that people of J&K don't accept the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated unconstitutionally, illegally and immorally," Mufti said.
While the political parties raised the demand for the restoration of the statehood before elections, Union minister Amit Shah said elections can't be held without completing the delimitation exercise, which got delayed because of the pandemic, Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said it was conveyed to PM Modi that what the Central government did to J&K on August 5, 2019, was a breach of trust. "We told PM that we don't stand with what was done on 5th August 2019. We are not ready to accept it. But we won't take the law into our hands. We will fight this in court. We also told PM that there's been a breach of trust between the state and the Centre. It's the Centre's duty to restore it," Omar said.
People's Conference leader Sajjad Lone said the meeting was cordial. "We came out quite positive that hopefully there will be some delivery for the people of Jammu and Kashmir," Sajjad Lone said.
J&K Apni Party's Altaf Bukhari said PM Modi heard everyone and asked all to participate in the delimitation process. "We have been assured that this is the roadmap towards elections," Altaf Bukhari said.
The fact that the meeting went on for over three hours is in itself an indication of the success of the meeting, BJP's Ram Madhav tweeted soon after the conclusion of the meeting.
Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh, principal secretary to Prime minister P K Mishra and Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla were among those who attended the meeting apart from PM Modi and Amit Shah. Four former chief ministers of the erstwhile state Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti were also present in the meeting. Four former deputy chief ministers were in attendance too – Congress’ Tara Chand, People's Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig and BJP's Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.
CPI-M leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone of the People's Conference, J-K Congress head G A Mir, BJP's Ravinder Raina and Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh attended the meeting as well.
(With agency inputs)