Restoration of statehood on cards? PM calls all-party meet with Jammu Kashmir leaders, Mufti confirms invite

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair an all party-meeting on Jammu and Kashmir on June 24 in New Delhi. Sources said that informal invites to major political leaders in J&K have also been sent. Speaking to India Today, PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti said that she did “receive an informal invite and they were discussing it”.

It is the most significant step from the centre to end the political impasse in J&K after the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the former state to two Union Territories.

Representatives of parties from both Kashmir and Jammu are expected to be at the meeting, which comes amid reports that the Centre may discuss the restoration of statehood and other important issues concerning J&K.

“An intimation has been sent to us. We don’t know exactly what it is about yet but will wait for a formal invitation and then take a call”, said a senior leader in J&K.

Top sources confirmed to India Today that the central government has reached out to mainstream parties in the Valley for a meeting next week to discuss the delimitation exercise or the process of redrawing constituencies in the Union Territory. This is ahead of the polls which could be scheduled in November or early next year.

Sources said that as many as nine parties have been called, till Friday, but the list could include as many as 16 parties from both Jammu and Kashmir. However, a formal invite has not been sent so far. People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone and Apni party leader Altaf Bukhari had been reiterating that there is time for the political process to take place.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Home secretary Ajay Bhalla, IB Chief Arvind Kumar and top officials of MHA, IB and CRPF, concerning the situation in J&K.

Home Minister Amit Shah carried out a security review meeting a month ahead of the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A. The security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir was discussed with a one hour presentation made by the Director-General (DG) Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP), Dilbagh Singh. By the end of the presentation, he told officials that despite the situation being under control, the security forces should not let their guards down.

Mehbooba Mufti to meet party leaders before deciding

Mehbooba Mufti will be holding a meeting with her party leaders on Sunday to come to a decision about the all-party meeting. National Conference leaders, on the other hand, remained tight-lipped. However, it is worth mentioning that NC patron Farooq Abdullah, who heads the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), had spelt out earlier that if the Centre reaches out to political parties, they should use the opportunity to meet. Thus, it is likely that the PAGD, formed by Kashmir-based parties, is likely to chalk out a strategy for the PM meeting.

In August 2019, the centre took the big decision to downsize Article 370 from the constitution of India. The provision gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The centre also announced the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Scores of political workers including top leaders and former CM’s like Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah – were arrested for months. The region has been under political uncertainty ever since.

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