The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in Jammu and Kashmir will attend an all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, PTI reported.
The decision was announced by alliance chairperson Farooq Abdullah after political leaders met at his home in Srinagar to discuss the Centre’s invitation. Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami were also at the meeting.
“Mehbooba ji, me, Tarigami sahib and all those who have been invited from us [the alliance] will go,” Abdullah told reporters. “We hope to keep our agenda before the prime minister and the home minister.”
The Centre had abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019, and split the erstwhile state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, a coalition of six parties, was formed last October with the agenda of reinstating the abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which had provided special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The meeting on Thursday marks the Narendra Modi-led government’s first major outreach to Kashmiri political leaders since it scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
On being asked about the position the alliance would take in the meeting, Abdullah said, “You all know our stand and there is no need to repeat it. Whatever our stand was, is still there and will be there.”
National Conference leaders said that the Centre’s decision to not set any pre-conditions or fix an agenda for the meeting broke the ice between the government and parties in Jammu and Kashmir, The Hindu reported.
“It was only after the Centre showed willingness not to put any red lines for talks... It prepared the ground for the engagement,” an unidentified leader of the National Conference said.
Party MP Hasnain Masoodi said they will continue to demand that Jammu and Kashmir’s position be restored to what it was before August 5, 2019.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party hailed the Centre’s political outreach on Tuesday. The party has decided to send its chief Altaf Bukhari as its representative for the meeting.
The June 24 meeting could be the first step towards holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
In February 2020, the Centre began the process of delimitation of constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. A Delimitation Commission was set up in March under the leadership of retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. The chief election commissioner of India and Jammu and Kashmir election commissioner are the ex-officio members of the commission.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which was passed by Parliament in August 2019 and came into effect in October 2019, Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislative Assembly while the Union Territory of Ladakh will not. The reorganisation act had stipulated that the number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir state Assembly will be raised from 107 to 114 and delimitation will provide for reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Almost all of Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including Mufti, Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, were put under detention following the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Farooq Abdullah was released from detention on March 13, 2020. Omar Abdullah’s detention was also revoked over a week later. People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone was released in July, while Mufti’s detention ended on October 13.