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At PM Modi’s Meet with J&K Leaders, Building on the Gains on Agenda, Not Full Statehood

(From left) Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. (PTI File)

(From left) Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. (PTI File)

The meeting is not going to decide the full statehood nor will restoration of Article 370 be discussed.

The leaders of all the main political parties of Jammu & Kashmir are meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the first time after August 2019 when Article 370 was diluted. But prior to that, some people are knowingly creating an atmosphere that suggests that during this meeting Prime Minister Modi will announce the restoration of full statehood to Jammu & Kashmir or the parties will again raise the issue of restoring Article 370 in the state before him. Now the question is: given that the Union Territories have seen rapid development during the last two years, why such speculation is being purposefully fanned that will vitiate the situation on the ground. Could it be a conspiracy to destabilize Jammu and Kashmir again?

The Attendees

The leaders of main political parties of Jammu & Kashmir are meeting PM Modi on Thursday at his residence. Among them will be National Conference leader and former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah who even had threatened to befriend China when Article 370 was abrogated. Mehbooba Mufti will also be there, who had said that if Article 370 is diluted, Kashmir will not be able to remain with India and it will be on fire.

Meeting in Delhi, Peace in Jammu & Kashmir

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But nothing of that sort happened in the last two years. The threats of these leaders proved a damp squib. The people of Jammu & Kashmir accepted the dilution of Article 370 and despite being downgraded from a state to Union Territory, they did not face any inconveniences. On the contrary, during the coronavirus pandemic, under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the J&K administration has been able to provide all sorts of essential facilities to the public.

Mehbooba Govt Was Dismissed 3 Years Ago

Mehbooba Mufti is meeting Prime Minister Modi face-to-face after three years. Before this, when she had met him, she was the chief minister of the state and Article 370 was still intact. After her government was dismissed three years ago, the state was placed under President’s rule and then turned into a UT. Mehbooba was the chief minister of the state and she was heading a coalition government with the BJP.

Modi Had Prepared J&K Roadmap 3 Years Ago

Way back in 2018, Prime Minister Modi had realised that the face of Jammu & Kashmir could not be changed amidst the daily threats and blackmailing by Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP. The leaders of the state had not cared to develop the state, all they cared for was their own interests; corruption was rampant in the state. J&K remained unstable and development was nearly impossible. Mehbooba’s government was dismissed under such circumstances and Governor’s rule was imposed—indirectly, the command of the state was in the hands of PM Modi.

ALSO READ | When Delhi Honours J&K Statehood Promise, It Mustn’t Lose Upper Hand Gained from 2019 Reforms

22 months Since Article 370 Was Diluted

Once the statehood was withdrawn, the political activities in J&K picked up pace. A Bill to withdraw the special status of Jammu & Kashmir was introduced in Parliament and on August 6, 2019, the President gave his assent to this Bill after it was passed in both Houses of the Parliament. Jammu & Kashmir was separated and made a UT, and Ladakh was carved out of the state as a separate UT.

Development Took Off at Great Speed

With the dilution of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir was put on the road to rapid development under the direct direction of PM Modi. Then Lt Governor Satyapal Malik was replaced with Girish Chandra Murmu, a close confidante of PM Modi. Murmu started working on the vision of a new Kashmir and worked hard to implement it. He also initiated action to end corruption in the state.

Modi Govt Has Given Assurance of Full Statehood

But when the political process in J&K was set to take off with the development plans, Murmu was called back to Delhi and he was made CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India). In August 2020, Manoj Sinha was appointed Lt Governor of Jammu & Kashmir. Sinha is a seasoned politician with over four decades of experience in politics. He also has been a central minister and is considered a good administrator. When the dilution of Article 370 was debated in the state, Modi had made it clear that as the conditions in J&K would become satisfactorily normal, full statehood will be restored without much delay.

Democratic Process on Track in Jammu & Kashmir

After the panchayat elections, LG Manoj Sinha also conducted the elections of District Development Council or the DDC to implement the vision of PM Modi. The idea was to strengthen the three-tier administrative system in Jammu & Kashmir. National conference and PDP which had formed the Gupkar Alliance to restore the statehood with other political parties were also compelled to participate in these elections. They were afraid of a new political formation coming up in the state as an alternative that may take care of people’s aspirations.

Development Reaches Common People

With the local elections, democratic process in the state was strengthened while on the other hand, development was taken to the hinterlands so that it could touch the lives of the common people. From roads to hospitals, all the schemes were implemented with full honesty in Jammu & Kashmir in the last two years. There have been perceptible changes in the way bureaucracy is functioning and major administrative reforms have been carried out. Manoj Sinha himself chose to travel in each district by road. Earlier neither CMs nor their bureaucrats travelled by road, they always travelled by air for security reasons.

It was said that if Article 370 was withdrawn, it would unleash violence in the state but no such thing has happened and the security forces were able to control the situation in a very efficient manner despite insinuations from opposition parties.

Who is Creating Confusion?

Now when J&K is walking fast on the path of development, who are these people who have started raising this issue that Modi may announce the restoration of full statehood to Jammu & Kashmir? Further, what is being suggested is this: if Article 370 is not restored, the parties of Jammu & Kashmir will not be a party to the new democratic process. These same parties have already participated in the local elections.

Sensing Opportunity in Instability?

Who is stoking the fire and trying to sabotage the democratic process? Are they the same elements who always sense opportunity for themselves when there is no peace in J&K?

ALSO READ | Modi Govt’s Decision to Restore Statehood to J&K Could Offer its People Much-needed Release

Time for Betterment, Not Big Announcement

Any key announcement about Jammu & Kashmir will be made in Parliament. Jammu & Kashmir will get full statehood when the time comes, and the government has already made it clear in Parliament. In such a situation, there is no point raising this issue before the meeting with Prime Minister Modi. The only motive behind this could be to create confusion because if no such announcement is made, then it will be easier to say that the meeting was a total failure and nothing big was announced. Such narratives will benefit only those who seek benefits for themselves and the enemy country Pakistan, which has been sidelined by the Modi government with respect to the situation in Jammu & Kashmir.

Full Statehood Will Take Time

The position of the Modi government is very clear. Modi wants to speed up the democratic process, but in an honest way. Political parties in J&K are expected to create a healthy environment for this and only then can J&K move towards full statehood. But before this, the delimitation process has to be completed and this will take time. Former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Desai is working on this and it will take time.

Joint Efforts for Better Results

All the well-wishers of Jammu & Kashmir should first think of creating a conducive and peaceful environment there. PM Modi also wants this and that is why he has called all the political leaders for the meeting. When they sit together, they will talk and a way forward will be found. Nothing is going to happen immediately. The meeting is not going to decide the full statehood nor will restoration of Article 370 be discussed. PM Modi has already put a full stop on this. It is better not to expect much from this meeting, otherwise the atmosphere will become more vicious.

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