J&K leaders to meet Modi today, say will go with open mind

14 political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir are slated to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 3 pm today in what is being speculated to discuss the government’s plans to conduct Assembly elections in the Union territory

Many leaders of the Gupkar collective have already reached Delhi for the talks. Photo: PTI (File)

Prominent leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, have said they will approach the interaction with an open mind, but the priorities on their agenda will be pressing for a restoration of statehood and the scrapped Article 370.

According to reports, many of the 14 invited leaders reached Delhi on Wednesday to attend the much-anticipated meeting slated for 3 pm on Thursday.

“We have not been given an agenda. We will be attending the meeting to know what the Centre is offering,” CPI(M) leader Yosuf Tarigami, also a spokesperson of the Gupkar alliance told Hindustan Times.

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“The biggest thing that has been taken away from us should be given back to us,” he added.

Those invited for the meeting are Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tara Chand and GA Mir; Farooq and Omar Abdullah from the National Conference; Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti; Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari; BJP’s Ravinder Raina, Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta; CPI(M)’s MY Tarigami; Bheem Singh from National Panthers Party and Sajad Lone from Peoples Conference.

Also read: Centre’s call for dialogue: J&K parties tread with hope, but also with caution

The government’s side besides having the prime minister would constitute Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and the home secretary.

The Congress has already clarified that its chief agenda will be to demand restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

National Conference’s provincial president (Jammu) Devender Singh Rana after a meeting with party chief Farooq Abdullah said, the party is willing to have “any dialogue that can take us out of this morass and any dialogue which will lead to the welfare of the state of J&K and its people.”

He said at a time when the local parties are at a crossroads, dialogue is the only way forward.

Ahead of the meeting, the Election Commission on Wednesday held a virtual meeting with the deputy commissioners of all districts in the Union territory to discuss the delimitation of the existing Assembly constituencies.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, the government under which the state was divided into two Union territories, has provision to increase the number of legislative assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir from 107 to 114. This delimitation exercise would be determined by the Election Commission.

This is the first time the Centre is holding talks with leaders from the valley since it abrogated Article 370 and divided the state into the two Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on August 5, 2019.

Reports quoting official sources said that the government is ready to discuss all the issues raised by the invited leaders, but its priority will be to get the delimitation work done to enable the conduct of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

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