Nearly two years after the abrogation of Article 370, that stripped Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) of its statehood and divided it into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, the Valley has seldom seen major political activity.
With most former chief ministers and political leaders under house arrest until recently, the Centre has now initiated dialogue with major political parties and stakeholders, with a meeting scheduled with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 24 June.
However, the agenda of the meeting still remains unclear. While many have predicted it to be the much-awaited delimitation process, many are calling it a “photo op” by PM Modi in order to garner local support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the backdrop of international pressure and Chinese incursion.
However, leaders of the Gupkar alliance, who have agreed to meet the Prime Minister for talks, have expressed certain expectations from the meeting.
Stress on Restoration of Special Status
CPI(M) leader MY Tarigami, also a spokesperson for the Gupkar Alliance, told The Quint that the party hopes this is a genuine attempt to solve the problems of the Valley.
“As far as the meeting convened by the Prime Minister is concerned, we have expressed ourselves time and again that whatever has been done to Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh of course, on 5 August 2019 onwards is virtually an assault on our rights and an assault on the very basic structure of the Constitution of India itself. All of us know that we were provided certain protection to our rights, constitutional rights, (and) political rights which have been snatched from us. A historic state has been downgraded and divided arbitrarily without any discussion, without any debate with any section of the population, with any segment of political leadership whatsoever,” he said
“As far as this meeting is concerned, we don’t even know the agenda but certainly, as a political party CPI (M), we have always expressed our views, that options for any contact, any communication, any dialogue to discuss the issues, which people in this region are facing, certainly we will not miss those opportunities[sic],” he added.
He further said that the talks might have been initiated by the Centre after realising it’s failure to deal with the situation in the Valley on its own.
“It will be too early to conclude this way but certainly, it is a realisation. There is a level of acceptance that something wrong has happened, there are issues which the public, the larger sections of the population are deeply concerned (about). We hope that this opening is not just for a photo exhibition, we hope that it’s not just an eyewash. We hope and expect that there should be some sense of seriousness with those who are holding the power in Delhi, with those in authority,” he added.
Opportunity to Highlight Sufferings Since Article 370 Abrogation
Speaking to The Quint, Adnan Ashraf, spokesperson of the People’s Conference Party, said that the meeting is an opportunity to highlight the sufferings of the people of J&K since the Abrogation of Article 370.
“We will express and inform the Prime Minister of our pain and our suffering. And we will hope that this engagement will facilitate the return to democracy and empowerment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It’s also time for involving all stakeholders to stake a new social contract between Delhi and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We would emphasise and stress the need for this dialogue to be positive, decisive, and result oriented. Apart from these, we would also inform the Prime Minister of the change in J&K since 2019,” Ashraf said.
Appreciating the initiation of dialogue by the Centre, Ashraf said: “It does seem like the administration, over the last two years, has miserably failed to achieve the objectives set out by the central leadership on 5 August.”
Ashraf said that the gap between the people and the administration has widened over the past two years and that there’s complete disconnect and distrust.
“And, as per the latest data released by the Government of India, the state has receded on a number of indicators. While we do hope that the failure of the administration is not the sole reason why this process has been started again, but it must have played an important role in arriving at this decision,” he said.
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