THE People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in its meeting in Srinagar on Tuesday reiterated its demand for the reversal of the revocation of Article 370 that granted Jammu and Kashmir its semi-autonomous status within the Indian Union. The alliance said that the withdrawal of Article 370 had damaged “the very bond of our relationship with the Union of India”. By demolishing the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, the resolution passed at the meeting stated, the government has crossed all limits of constitutionality. The PAGD rued there has been no redeeming change to the situation in the Valley following their meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June. “J&K remains as far from Delhi and from the ‘Dil’ (heart) of India as it has ever been,” said the PAGD spokesperson M Y Tarigami.
The meeting came in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and thus assumes some significance. There are fears that the transfer of power in Kabul would have security implications in Kashmir. This has persuaded many experts in india to get its act together in Kashmir. Former Army chief General Shankar Roychowdhury has called on the government to step up outreach in Kashmir and reassure people in the region that India will continue to be a secular democracy.
However, it seems out of question that the centre would be willing to discuss the reversal of the withdrawal of Article 370. But for now the return of statehood would be a welcome step in Kashmir. People would certainly want elections to take place and an elected government in power. It is now for over three years that the former state has been under a central rule. So, people would want the elected representatives they could approach to resolve their issues.
As for Article 370, the only remote hope it could be reversed is if the Supreme Court overturns government move. But so far the court has not found time to hear the petitions challenging the revocation of J&K autonomy.
The PAGD leaders, however, have made it clear that they were committed to the demand for a reversal of the withdrawal of the constitutional provision, saying they will fight for the restoration of the former state’s autonomy through democratic means.
This is where a dialogue between the centre and the J&K leadership holds some hope and the former should engage in it sooner than later. This could go a long way in breaking the ice and putting the union territory on the road to a political normalcy. Every J&K citizen has a stake in such a dialogue and all would want it to reach its logical conclusion: a statehood for J&K and redressal of the local political and public grievances and aspirations.
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