The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration on Monday said it was disappointed with the result of the three-hour long meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was the first meeting between the Centre and political parties from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir since its special status was abrogated on August 5, 2019.
The Union government did not take 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”, the Gupkar Alliance said in a statement. “This would have initiated the much needed process of reaching out to the people of J&K who are the biggest stakeholders & sufferers of the J&K problem.”
The Gupkar Alliance also demanded that elections should be held in Jammu and Kashmir only after its statehood was restored. The alliance said that the Bharatiya Janata Party had committed on the floor of the Parliament that it will restore statehood, and asked the saffron party to keep its word.
“To this end [restoration of statehood], the PAGD [People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration] 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 aim of the meeting was to discuss conducting a delimitation exercise in the Union Territory. Delimitation is the process of redrawing borders of Lok Sabha and Assembly segments in a state or Union Territory based on the preceding census. While it is a routine effort in some parts of the country, the process is much more politically sensitive in Jammu and Kashmir because of fears that the BJP may use it to alter political outcomes in what was earlier India’s only Muslim-majority state.
The members of the Gupkar Alliance had met on Sunday to discuss the June 24 meeting. The statement said that the group reiterated its commitment to reverse the “unconstitutional and unacceptable” decision to abrogate the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. “PAGD’s struggle for undoing these changes will continue as long as it takes while striving to achieve this objective as early as possible.”
The political leaders had demanded full statehood at the June 24 meeting as well. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had promised that the government was committed to granting statehood, according to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
After the meeting, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also said that Modi and Shah had assured them that the work for elections and restoring statehood would start soon. However, he added: “Azad Sahib said that first statehood should be restored and then elections should be held. On this, the PM didn’t say anything.”
Two days after the meeting, Abdullah had reiterated the demand for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood before holding Assembly elections.
With the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the esrtwhile state was split it into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Curfews and internet blockades were imposed in the region after that.
Almost all of Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were put under detention. 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.