New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told a meeting with mainstream political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir here that the process to hold Assembly elections in the Union Territory will be carried out after completion of the ongoing delimitation exercise, according to those who attended the interaction.
Modi stated this after several leaders raised the demand for restoration of statehood of J&K, which was converted into a Union Territory in August 2019 along with revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state, with Ladakh being separated from it.
The meeting, first between Modi and mainstream political leaders since August 2019, lasted over 3 hours and saw the issue of revocation of Article 370 being aired by leaders like PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and some others.
According to government sources, the Prime Minister told the leaders from Jammu and Kashmir that ‘Dilli ki duuri’ (distance with Delhi) should not become ‘dil ki duuri’ (distance of hearts).
According to Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari, the Prime Minister said delimitation process is going on and once it is completed, assembly elections will be held in J&K.
After the marathon meeting, Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, “Today’s meeting on Jammu and Kashmir was conducted in a very cordial environment. Everyone expressed their commitment to democracy and the constitution. It was stressed to strengthen the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir.”
He added, “We are committed to ensure all round development of J&K. The future of Jammu and Kashmir was discussed and the delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring statehood as promised in parliament.”
Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said “almost 80 percent of parties spoke on Article 370 but the matter is sub-judice. Our demands included full-fledged statehood soon, elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, release of all political detainees and guarantee of land and employment.”
Former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig said most of the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir demanded restoration of statehood during the “cordial” meeting.