NEW DELHI: While PM Narendra Modi told the Kashmir leaders that his government is committed to restoring statehood, he remained silent on the restoration of Article 370. Sources told this newspaper that another issue on which the PM remained non-committal was the demand of new domicile rules, job guarantee for locals. Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party had placed the demand that in the new Bill for Statehood, the government should protect land rights through new domicile rules and guarantee employment for locals.
When asked about the government’s stand on the two issues, a senior government functionary said: “Restoration of Article 370 is out of question and the government has already declared the new domicile rules.” NC leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami put forward the demand for restoration of Article 370. “Almost 80% of parties spoke on Article 370 but the matter is sub judice,” said Azad.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said she told the PM that the abrogation of special status has left the people “angry, upset, humiliated and emotionally shattered”. “Be it months or years, we’ll restore Article 370 in J&K as it’s a matter of our identity. We didn’t get it from Pakistan, it was given to us by our country, by Nehru, Sardar Patel.”
Omar too said that he told the prime minister that the party does not stand with the August 5, 2019 decision when the government revoked the special status of J&K and turned the state into two union territories. “We’re not ready to accept it,” he said. Omar also questioned the need for carrying out the delimitation process in J&K. After the 2001 census, the J&K assembly had passed a law, putting off the delimitation process till 2026, he said.
“We said delimitation was not needed. If August 5 was to unite the state with India, then the delimitation process defeats the purpose as we are being singled out.” At Thursday’s meeting, Modi urged the 14 leaders to get on board with the process of delimitation and said that the election process in the UT will begin once the delimitation process is finished.