Gupkar says let down by meeting with PM Modi: ‘Before polls, statehood’

The statement comes a day before the Delimitation Commission is scheduled to visit J&K to interact with political parties, public representatives and state government officials on redrawing boundaries of existing Assembly seats.

IN ITS first joint statement after the June 24 all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) Monday said it was “disappointed” with its outcome.

In the statement, issued a day after the allies met Sunday, the PAGD said restoration of statehood was the BJP’s commitment on the floor of Parliament. “So any Assembly election must be held only after restoration of full statehood for J&K. To this end, the PAGD has decided to reach out to other political parties in J&K with a view to take a common position on the issue,” it said.

The statement comes a day before the Delimitation Commission is scheduled to visit J&K to interact with political parties, public representatives and state government officials on redrawing boundaries of existing Assembly seats.

The Gupkar group, a coalition of mainstream political parties of J&K, mainly the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party and the CPM, had met Sunday at the residence of PAGD Chairman Farooq Abdullah.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader and former CM of J&K had earlier told The Indian Express that the government must restore full statehood to J&K before elections are held.

In the all-party meeting on June 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured political leaders from J&K that his government was committed to reviving the democratic process through Assembly elections as early as possible and sought their participation in the delimitation exercise. In the Central government’s scheme of things, statehood will be restored after the polls.

On Monday, PAGD spokesperson MY Tarigami said, “With regard to the visit of the Delimitation Commission, these are constitutional bodies and each party will decide on its own. However, as far as the PAGD is concerned, we will continue to fight for restoration of constitutional rights, release of prisoners and other confidence building measures.”

Tarigami said restoration of statehood was for the Government of India to ensure. “In the meeting on June 24 as well, the Union Home Minister said that he, along with the Prime Minister, are committed to restoration of statehood at an appropriate time. We think that appropriate time is now,” he told The Indian Express.

The process of dialogue begins

At least four key parties — the NC, PDP, CPIM and Congress — now want full statehood before Assembly elections. The process has begun, and more talks are expected to bring the parties closer to a common ground on the way forward.

According to him, the credibility of any election conducted in the future in J&K will depend on the restoration of statehood. “…which is why we will approach other political parties to try and see our point of view and build momentum to restore statehood before an election is announced,” he said.

Tarigami also said the political leadership of J&K used the opportunity on June 24 and kept its point of view before the PM. “However, our unanimous opinion is that, the little hope that we had, was also not met. In this meeting, we were not provided any concrete assurance,” he said.

The CPIM leader said for elections to be held, it is “incumbent upon the Government of India to honour its commitment and restore statehood to J&K.”

The alliance has reiterated its commitment to fight together to reverse “the unconstitutional and unacceptable changes foisted on the people of J&K on 5th August 2019 using all constitutional, legal and political means at its disposal.” The struggle for undoing these changes will continue as long as it takes while striving to achieve this objective as early as possible, Tarigami said.

The PAGD statement issued Monday said, “All the members of the PAGD expressed their disappointment at the outcome of the Delhi meeting especially at the absence of any substantial confidence building measures such as releasing political and other prisoners from jails and taking concrete steps to end the siege and atmosphere of suppression that has choked J&K since 2019.” These measures “would have initiated the much needed process of reaching out to the people of J&K who are the biggest stakeholders and sufferers of the J&K problem”, it said.

The PAGD met on Sunday under the chairmanship of Dr Farooq Abdullah and was attended by Vice-Chairperson and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, M Y Tarigami, South Kashmir MP Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, Javed Mustafa Mir and Muzaffar Shah.

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