APM: A Way Forward?

3 mins read

Mir Mudasir

After two years, the first meeting was held in New Delhi between Kashmiri leadership and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The 14 leaders who attended the meeting included former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, Former deputy chief ministers, Muzuffar Beigh, Tara Chand, Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta, besides heads of the mainstream political parties from both Jammu and Kashmir regions.

The meeting as per the leaders managed to break the ice between Kashmiri leaders and the centre government, especially those leaders who were jailed soon after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of state into two union territories. However, questions about J&K still remain in the minds of people as well as politicians.

Though both sides claim that meeting was an indication that things are heading towards an elected government in J&K post delimitation process, however, the leadership of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) after the meeting said they will fight not only for the Article 370 but also for those things which had been snatched from the people on August 5, 2019 when parliament abrogated Article 370.

 

Though all the participants in one voice demanded statehood, at the same time they wanted the centre to take some CBM’s ahead of elections. They wanted the restoration of statehood with full powers, while the centre or BJP government seems in no hurry to grant the same  ahead of elections.

Instead they are open to restoration of statehood in a way that first delimitation will be done, then elections will be held and the government which comes to power will be given statehood which was even promised by the PM and Home Minister when the state was downgraded into Union Territory.

At the same time many leaders especially from Kashmir have apprehensions that BJP could backtrack from its promise or statehood will be granted which will have limited powers.

After attending the all parties meeting (PAGD) had announced for holding its first meeting in Srinagar on Tuesday, however the meeting was cancelled owing to prior engagement of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. The meeting was planned at the Gupkar residence of NC president Farooq Abdullah.

After the meeting both Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have straight away announced that they aren’t in a power race and not interested in becoming chief minister any more.

Political analysts view this as an important statement from powerful leaders of the mainstream parties that have a good base on ground. However, in future it could be a rallying point that could keep both NC and the PDP together and PAGD a vibrant alliance.

Former J&K chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice president, Omar Abdullah after reaching Srinagar on Saturday said that they would continue to agitate over the revocation of Article 370 even though the issue was before the Supreme Court like BJP used to press their agenda on Ram Temple issue.

Omar Abdullah said that the parties – NC, Peoples Democratic Party and Communist Party of India (M) – which are part of Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD)  talked about the agenda of the alliance before Modi.

“We didn’t talk about anything that was outside the agenda of the Gupkar Alliance. The alliance said that `’we don’t accept changes of August 5, 2019 and whatever needs to be done to undo that we will do that constitutionally, politically, legally and peacefully’,” he said.

NC president Farooq Abdullah also made similar remarks. “Nobody among the Gupkar alliance said that we accept August 5, 2019 and move forward. We said that people are angry with this decision and are not happy. They want it altered,” he said.

Even Mehbooba has been defiant and urged Prime Minister Kashmir needs peace initiatives with all the stakeholders even Pakistan and described how his father along with former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee worked for restoration of peace not only in J&K but in the entire region.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti also said the dialogue process initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Jammu and Kashmir’s mainstream leadership can gain credibility by ending what she called an “era of oppression and suppression” in the Union Territory and understanding that a dissenting voice is not a criminal act.

“Give the people the right to breathe and rest will follow later,” the former chief minister said, as she termed the Prime Minister’s meeting with a 14-member delegation from Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday as a way forward to end “sufferings” of people in the erstwhile state.

Mufti, who was part of the delegation, made it clear that the onus was on the centre to make the dialogue process credible, and said it should initiate confidence building measures and allow “people to breathe” and also ensure protection of jobs and land for the people.

When the leaders were released in 2020, they came together as PAGD and adopted a resolution to demand the region’s full statehood and special status. Current PAGD members include the NC, PDP, CPI-M, J&K Awami National Conference, and the J&K People’s Movement.

In the DDC polls, PAGD managed to emerge as the biggest alliance by winning 110 seats out of 280, though Sajjad Lone who was part of the alliance parted ways from the alliance.

The leaders and participants give an impression that the centre wants to undertake the delimitation process and then go for elections and statehood could be granted to the new dispensation. However, the J&K parties especially PDP, NC and the Congress want restoration of statehood. For Article 370, both the parties said they could fight it out in a democratic way even if it takes years.

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