New DelhiAbout 22 months ago, in August 2019, when the Modi government took the historic decision to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, there were sharp statements from the leaders of the Valley. All the leaders were placed under house arrest, security forces were deployed on a large scale, the internet was suspended for a long time. Now the situation has changed. The same leaders who were talking rhetoric were discussing the future of the state with PM Modi in Delhi on Thursday in an atmosphere of harmony. There was talk of erasing the distance of hearts. After the meeting, PM Modi indicated that the government is preparing to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir soon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the process of delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir has to be completed at a fast pace so that assembly elections can be held there and an elected government can be formed which will strengthen the development of the state. After the all-party meeting with the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister in a series of tweets also said that the priority of the government is to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level in the Union Territory. Describing the all-party meeting as an important step in the ongoing efforts to bring Jammu and Kashmir as a developed state, he said, “Our priority is to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level in Jammu and Kashmir.” He said, “Delimitation has to be done at a fast pace so that elections can be held in Jammu and Kashmir and there is an elected government which will strengthen the all-round development of the state.” Terming sitting discussions and exchange of views as a great strength of democracy, the Prime Minister said, “I told the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir that the people, especially the youth, have to be provided political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir and their aspirations have to be met.” Fulfillment has to be ensured. Sources said that the Prime Minister carefully listened to all the suggestions and arguments from the leaders involved in the meeting and said that all have expressed their views in the meeting with an open mind. He said that the meeting was called for an open discussion, at the center of which was to build a bright future for Kashmir. The main issue of the meeting was to strengthen the democratic process in the Union Territory and the Prime Minister assured all the political parties that the Central Government was committed to its restoration in Jammu and Kashmir. According to sources, Modi insisted on holding the assembly elections there just like the successful completion of the Zilla Vikas Parishad elections. After the delimitation in the meeting, there was a discussion about holding elections and almost all the political parties agreed on it. The Prime Minister said in the meeting that even a single life lost in Jammu and Kashmir is very sad and it is everyone’s collective responsibility to protect the future generation. He stressed on giving opportunities to the youth of the Union Territory and said that they will give its fruits back to the country. Earlier, most of the political parties involved in the all-party meeting raised the demand for restoration of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and holding of assembly elections at the earliest. Extending the hand of talks with the political leadership of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in the last nearly two years, Prime Minister Modi held this important meeting with 14 leaders of the Union Territory to prepare a blueprint for the future strategy. This is the first such meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi himself after the removal of most provisions of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories.
[Attribution to NBT]