Mainstream Leaders Camp In Delhi For PM's Meet

KO File Photo By Abid Bhat

New Delhi: Most of the 14 J&K politicians, including four former chief ministers, invited for an all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 24 have arrived here by Wednesday evening.

The Thursday's meeting will be the first between the Centre and mainstream Jammu and Kashmir politicians after the abrogation of Article 370 and the divisions of the erstwhile state into two union territories in 2019.

With no agenda announced for the Thursday meeting, the J&K leaders said they will go with an open mind.

"We have not been given an agenda. We will be attending the meeting to know what the Centre is offering, said CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who is also a spokesman for the six-party People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

Tarigami is among the 14 leaders invited for the all-party meeting convened by Modi. Others invited include four former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The Communist leader said the PAGD will "be out there to protect the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir."

This is the first meeting between Jammu and Kashmir mainstream parties and the prime minister after the Centre revoked the erstwhile state's special status and carved two union territories out of it in August 2019.

While the PAGD -- a grouping of the National Conference, PDP, CPM, CPI, Awami National Conference and People's Movement -- has decided to attend the meeting, the constituents will be sending their individual representatives as well, indicating the bloc might be having a difference of opinion over the key issue of restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The PAGD was formed with the aim of striving to restore Jammu and Kashmir to its position as it existed before Article 370 was revoked on August 5, 2019.

Farooq Consults Jammu NC Leaders

Earlier National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday held consultations with his party leaders from Jammu over the Centre's invite to mainstream political parties.

The NC leaders from the Jammu region said they stand for a single Jammu and Kashmir by maintaining its unity and integrity and by respecting the wishes and aspirations of its people.

The delegation was led by NC's provincial president for Jammu Devender Singh Rana.

Speaking to reporters outside Abdullah's residence, Rana said, "Our only stand is a single J&K, to maintain its unity and integrity and respect the wishes and aspirations of the people of J&K."

He said dialogue and inclusiveness is an important and vital essence of democracy.

"Any dialogue that can take us out of this morass and which will lead to the welfare of the state of J&K and its people, we are all for it," he said.

Rana said the party leaders from Jammu have reposed faith in Abdullah as he is not only the president of the NC but also the tallest leader of J&K.

"He (Abdullah) has assured us that he will represent us and the people of J&K with his wisdom and he alone and alone can take this dialogue forward for welfare of the people of J&K and anything that is for the welfare of the people of J&K, '' he said.

Rana said as far as the pluralistic Jammu is concerned, it has its own aspirations and its own desires.

"We are for singular J&K, have always stood for the unity of J&K and equitable justice to all regions and sub-regions of J&K and we will always hold the aspirations of all the people of J&K as much as for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, he said.

Asked if the leader from Jammu region wants dialogue with Pakistan as was pitched by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday, Rana said he will not get into the intricacies .

"Abdullah is going for a dialogue, it is a dialogue with the PM of India and it is an inclusive dialogue and we are very hopeful that it will lead to the betterment of the state of J&K, peace, progress and prosperity of J&K.

"We are for J&K, for the people of J&K. We are not here for any power politics, we are here for the people of J&K and we will always stand for the people of J&K, for their welfare, their growth, their development, he said.

Asked if he expected the PM's meeting to pave the way for holding Assembly elections in J&K, Rana said everything is not about elections.

"Right now, we are at the crossroads of history in J&K and dialogue is the only way forward. There is no reason to sabotage the dialogue. We are going with an open mind. Abdullah is the tallest of the tall leaders of J&K...whether somebody likes it or not, he is the best person suited to represent J&K and represent the aspirations of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, he said.

He added that the NC president has assured them that all three regions will be represented by him equitably and properly.

Rana also said the people want the aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh to be respected.

Asked if he wanted the restoration of statehood with special status, he said, ``Who does not want the state and of course, our own identity, our job protections and land protections."

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