NC delegation calls on PM, asks him to hold polls before year end

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Photo: PTI File.

A National Conference delegation, led by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (August 01) and asked him to hold assembly elections in the state before the end of the year.

The delegation, which met Modi for about 20 minutes, also urged him not to take any step that may lead to a deterioration in the situation in the Kashmir Valley.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was part of the delegation along with party MP Hasnain Masoodi, said they apprised the Prime Minister about the situation and the apprehensions of the people.

“We discussed two issues with the prime minister. We told him that no step should be taken which will lead to deterioration of the situation in the Kashmir Valley. We also told him that the assembly elections should be held before the end of the year,” Omar Abdullah told reporters.

He said that they have conveyed to the Prime Minister that the situation in the Kashmir Valley has been improved with great difficulty and it is better than last year, but the situation can deteriorate at any time.

“We apprised him about the people’s feelings and also told him that there is tension in the people’s mind,” the National Conference (NC) leader said.

Asked whether the speculation about the possibility of scrapping of Article 35A of Constitution was taken up the prime minister, Omar Abdullah said they did not specify about it.

“But, when we say that there should be no step, that means it covers all issues including Article 35A and Article 370. We are of the view that let a new government be elected and take decisions on it. Let the people decide whom they want to elect. We will accept the people’s verdict,” he said.

The meeting with Modi was very cordial and the prime minister also apprised them about his feelings (on Jammu and Kashmir), the NC leader said.

“We are satisfied with the meeting,” Omar Abdullah said, refusing to disclose what the prime minister told the delegation.

Asked about PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal for an united stand by the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, he said a meeting of the political affairs committee of the NC will be held on Sunday and it will take a decision on it.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of the central government sending 100 additional companies or 10,000 personnel of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to the Valley.

The government had said the troops were being deployed to strengthen the counter-insurgency grid and law and order duties in the Kashmir Valley.

Speculation is also rife that the Centre may have plans to do away with Article 35A, which gives exclusive rights to the state’s residents in government jobs and land.

These speculation have dominated the discourse in Kashmir over the past few days. Mainstream political parties like the NC and the PDP have, however, vowed to resist any such move to tinker with the special status to the state.