Will Kashmir finally see political change?
NEW DELHI – The recent high-profile meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir could prove to be a harbinger of change in the region, defining the future political course of the Union territory. newly created.
Last week, 14 leaders, including four former chief ministers, attended the meeting, which was the first between the federal government and key Jammu and Kashmir politicians after Section 370 was repealed and split from the former state into two Union territories in August 2019.
After approximately three-hour talks with political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said demarcation must take place in the region at a rapid pace so that the polls can take place.
âOur priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy at J&K. The demarcation needs to happen at a rapid pace so that the polls can take place and J&K gets an elected government that strengthens J & K’s development trajectory, âModi said in a tweet after the meeting.
Meanwhile, the demand for the restoration of J&K statehood was raised by the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, who reiterated ahead of the meeting that they had come with an open mind.
In response, Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah echoed Modi, saying the demarcation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in the restoration of the state.
“We are committed to ensuring the overall development of J&K … the demarcation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring the state as promised in parliament,” Shah tweeted.
During the meeting, Modi focused on the delimitation or redistribution of constituencies. Modi urged leaders to participate in the process of delineating or redefining the boundaries of a parliamentary seat (Lok Sabha) or assembly. The meeting also revealed that members of the Boundary Commission will be in Jammu and Kashmir as part of a three-day visit between July 6 and 9.
During the meeting, all participants, including the political leaders of Congress and Kashmir-centric parties, freely expressed their views and expressed their demand not only for the reestablishment of the state for J&K, but also for the reinstatement of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India.
The federal government, it is believed, was keen to complete the demarcation process and hold elections in the UT as an administrative and political step alongside negotiations on state restoration for J&K.
On a positive note, which is seen as a major concession on the part of the Kashmir-centric rulers, the National Conference also appeared to publicly agree that state restoration was not necessarily a prerequisite for holding a elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said five demands – granting statehood, holding Assembly elections to restore democracy, rehabilitating Kashmiri pandits at J&K, the release of all political detainees and that on the rules of residence – were advanced during their talks, described as cordial by the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, with the Prime Minister.
As the ball rolls on the future course of action with near unanimity from all leaders keen to see the region progress, residents of the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region hope to see a fresh start after two years since the 5 August. , 2019, when in a sudden and unexpected move, the BJP government announced the repeal of Section 370 and Section 35A.
Outside of the talks, it was the sight of political leaders from all national and regional political parties in the Jammu and Kashmir Valley region standing for a group photo with India’s Prime Minister Home Secretary and the UT lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir, who gave hope to the people of UT that ultimately his people can truly move forward towards a restored state and a stable political future.
After two years of limited activity, the District Development Council (DDC) elections held in Jammu and Kashmir made it clear that although people are ready for a new start to progress, there are still plenty of them. who aspired to the old by voting for Kashmir centered parties like J&K National Conference and J&K PDP. But one thing was evident that all were ready to move forward towards progress.
Violence, instability, political chaos and economic decline have ravaged Jammu and Kashmir for more than three decades, and people in that region now believe the time has come to move forward with the rest of the world, which has made significant progress on the economic front. and on other development parameters.
Since the early 1990s, the Kashmir Valley in particular has seen nothing but instability and disruption and the people of the Kashmir Valley sincerely wish to end this security and political uncertainty. It is therefore a great relief for the inhabitants of the Kashmir Valley to see that New Delhi has finally, after two years, once again contacted the political leaders of the Kashmir Valley with an offer of talks to define the future course of action. .
Many analysts have said that the main reason for New Delhi’s awareness in Kashmir could be due to external factors. The loss of the Trump administration’s presidential candidacy, the Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh and the planned departure of NATO forces from Afghanistan (near the Kashmir Valley), could have collectively constrained New Delhi to resume the thread of the completion of its political initiatives on Kashmir, which began with the repeal of article 370.
There is also speculation that even Pakistan has finally come to terms with the futility of its Kashmir mishap and that there are secret talks between India and Pakistan to ensure that the electoral political process and governance by elected representatives rests in Jammu and Kashmir.
These speculations are reinforced by the fact that the Western Front bordering Jammu and Kashmir has been relatively peaceful over the past two years and that there has been a drastic reduction in militancy and internal violence in the Kashmir, all indicating that the current period is the best it is time to relaunch political negotiations on the political future of Jammu and Kashmir.
All of these developments bode well for the political future of Jammu and Kashmir, which has faced back-to-back problems on the security and economic front, exacerbated by the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has even crushed an otherwise booming economy in the Jammu region.
It is also necessary that the process of reshaping the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir undertaken two years ago finally culminates in the holding of elections and the handing over of governance to the elected representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. and restoration of the state.
In a way, the past two years, despite its uproar, have indirectly given Jammu and Kashmir a new roadmap – a map to development and progress. And it will certainly eliminate even thoughts of changing the political map, especially in the Kashmir Valley.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir really want to move forward and get back all that they have lost over the past three decades. There is a genuine desire to move forward, especially among the people of the Kashmir Valley, who have lost just about everything in an elusive quest for something that ultimately shattered their state and caused immense misery to them. his people.
This is absolutely the perfect time to complete the administrative and political process of reorganizing Jammu and Kashmir and restoring the self-respect and dignity of its people in the courtesy of the union of India. – Agencies