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All-party meeting on J&K concludes,election process to begin after delimitation

Thursday, 24 June 2021 (12:04 IST)
New Delhi:The all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir to discuss the future course of action for the Union Territory on Thursday has concluded.

Election process in Jammu and Kashmir will be started after the ongoing delimitation process is completed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told a meeting that he held with leaders of mainstream political parties, most of whom raised the demand for restoration of statehood of the Union Territory.
The meeting, which lasted over 3 hours at the residence of the Prime Minister here, saw the issue of revocation of Article 370 being aired by leaders like PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and some others.
The Prime Minister told the leaders from Jammu and Kashmir that ‘Dilli ki Duuri’ (distance with Delhi) should not become ‘Dil ki Duuri’ (distance of hearts), according to government sources.
This was the first meeting of the Prime Minister with mainstream political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was revoked in August 2019 and the state was downgraded to the status of Union Territory besides being bifurcated, with Ladakh being separated.
After the marathon meeting, Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, “Today’s meeting on Jammu and Kashmir was conducted in a very cordial environment. Everyone expressed their commitment to democracy and the constitution. It was stressed to strengthen the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir.”
He added, “We are committed to ensure all round development of J&K. The future of Jammu and Kashmir was discussed and the delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring statehood as promised in parliament.”
Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said “almost 80 percent of parties spoke on Article 370 but the matter is sub-judice. Our demands included full-fledged statehood soon, elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, release of all political detainees and guarantee of land and employment.”
Former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig said most of the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir demanded restoration of statehood during the “cordial” meeting.

Grant of statehood, conduct of Assembly polls among 5 demands put forth by Cong: Azad
Senior Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said that his party has put forward five demands -- including restoration of statehood, the conduct of Assembly elections, release of political prisoners and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits -- during the all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.
“All the three members, representing Congress in the all-party meeting, put forward various concerns… we informed the PM that the J&K should not have been downgraded and divided into two Union Territories without consulting the elected representatives,” Mr Azad told reporters after attending the meeting.
He said the Congress party kept five demands in front of PM Modi. “We demanded immediate restoration of statehood that was assured by the Home Minister Amit Shah on the floor of the House. We told them that the atmosphere is conductive right now as the elections – BDC and DDC – have been conducted and the valley is peaceful… the borders are also silent. So, we told them that this is the perfect time to restore statehood,” he said.
Mr Azad said that the other demand that was put forth was to hold Assembly election immediately to restore democracy in J&K. “As the DDC and other locals elections were held in J&K, the logical next step is the hold Assembly elections,” he said.
He said that Congress also demanded assurance by the Centre that the land and jobs of the citizen of J&K will be protected. “The domicile law is a pre-Independence law and has been in J&K since Maharaja rule… We demanded that the Centre should guarantee that the jobs and land of the locals will be protected,” he said.
The Congress leader said that the demand to release all political detainees was also put forward. “We are not saying that the government should release militants, but it should release all political detainees who were arrested when the Centre abrogated Article 370 and Article 35 A,” he said.
He said the issue of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits was also raised during the meeting. “We demanded that the Kashmiri Pandits, who are living in different parts of the country, including Jammu, should be brought back to Kashmir valley with dignity,” he added.
Discussion on statehood once process of delimitation gets over: Altaf Bukhari
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari said that the discussion on restoration of statehood will take place once the the process of delimitation gets over in the union territory.
Speaking to media after the three and half hour long all party meeting of Jammu and Kashmir leaders at PM Modi's residence here on Thursday, he said that all discussion held within the framework of Indian constitution.
He further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi listened every leader patiently.
According to Mr Bukhari, Mr Modi said that this meeting could have been convened long back but could not happen because of Covid pandemic.
"There were no discussion on the the Article 370 and 35A as both issues are pending before the Supreme Court", he further said.(UNI)

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