NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he was working towards removing “Dilli ki duri and Dil ki duri” (distance between between J&K and Delhi and distance between hearts), in a meeting he chaired with 14 leaders of eight parties from the state.
“Our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and J&K gets an elected government that gives strength to J&K’s development trajectory,” the Prime Minister tweeted after the talks at his residence, which lasted over three hours. The meeting came nearly two years after Article 370 was hollowed out and J&K was broken up into two Union Territories.
Restoration of statehood, holding the delimitation process, conducting Assembly elections to restore democracy, release of political detainees, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in J&K, ceasefire agreement with Pakistan, Article 370 and protection of land rights were among the key issues that came up for discussion.
While Modi heard all political leaders individually and expressed the Central government’s willingness to fulfil most demands raised by them, he was silent when Article 370 was raised by National Conference leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, sources said.
The eight parties that were represented included the National Conference, the PDP, the BJP and the Congress. Union home minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Lt Governor Manoj Sinha participated.
Restoration of statehood was raised by all 14 leaders. Shah said the government is committed to restoring it, but that would happen after the delimitation process and holding of elections is over. Modi sought cooperation from all parties irrespective of political differences to expedite the process.
After the talks, Farooq Abdullah emphasised on the importance of building trust in J&K, saying that restoration of full statehood will be the first trust-building exercise from New Delhi’s side. His son Omar Abdullah said the prime minister was told about their opposition to what was done on August 5, 2019, when the decision to revoke J&K’s special status and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories was announced in Parliament. He added that it was the duty of the Centre to restore the broken trust of the people and said delimitation is not necessary.
370 abrogated immorally, says Mufti
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said she told the PM that the people of J&K do not accept the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated “unconstitutionally, illegally and immorally”