Concerns as the Modi assembly prepares to sanctify the August 5 action


• Hurriyat leaders not a part of engagement
• Islamabad unlikely to simply accept any move without restoration of autonomous status to occupied Kashmir
• test suit for Gupkar Declaration signatories

In what’s being seen in India as a serious reversal of Narendra Modi’s hardline policy on Occupied Kashmir, the Indian prime minister is about to satisfy pro-India Kashmiri leaders for resumption of political process within the region, but the move is unlikely to satisfy key stakeholders on Kashmir.

Modi would meet political figures from Occupied Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday (today), which might be the primary high-level engagement between the pro-India leaders from Occupied Kashmir and therefore the Centre since August 2019 when India revoked the region’s autonomy by scrapping Article 370 of its constitution and bifurcated it into two parts. The meeting is, therefore, being keenly followed on each side of the road of Control.

Those invited to the meeting include former chief ministers of Occupied Kashmir Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah (National Conference), Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), and Mehbooba Mufti (Peoples Democratic Party) — three of whom were detained by Indian authorities after the Aug 5 move. Others joining the meeting are Tara Chand, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Nirmal Singh, Kavinder Gupta, Yusuf Tarigami, Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone, G.A. Mir, Ravidner Raina, and Bhim Singh.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) wouldn’t be a part of the engagement.

The meeting is, therefore, being viewed in Islamabad as an effort by Delhi to legitimize its Aug 5 action, which had been heavily criticized in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, by making minor concessions which too to require forward its own agenda without giving any meaningful relief to the Kashmiris. the sole beneficiaries, as per the thinking in Pakistan, would be the occupied valley’s pro-India political class which will get a kind of rehabilitation — an old Indian ploy.

What’s on the table?
It is being said there would be no agenda for the meeting between PM Modi and therefore the Kashmiri leaders and that they would be generally discussing things in Occupied Kashmir.

But, insiders say, the talks would revolve around the next state elections in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, delimitation of constituencies, and granting the region statehood through another Constitutional amendment.

The BJP government is thru delimitation seeking to feature a minimum of seven more constituencies in Hindu-dominated Jammu for domination within the future state assembly whenever polls are held. Therefore, at stake for a few of the participating leaders would be their strategic concern of maintaining their numerical strength within the future assembly.

The other issue is that of granting identity to the region through giving it statehood. Under the Indian constitution, the occupied area is currently a union territory.

As Pakistan had reportedly during the rear channel contacts asked India to reverse its Aug 5 action for forwarding movement in bilateral relations, the key question here is that if restoration of mere statehood would satisfy Pakistan and therefore the people of occupied Kashmir. Apparently, the solution is negative.

Although there has been no formal statement from Islamabad on the upcoming meeting, background interviews reveal that statehood without restoration of special autonomous status for Occupied Jammu and Kashmir wouldn’t be acceptable to Pakistan.

Islamabad, therefore, wants Delhi to revisit its Aug 5 actions and restore Articles 370 and 35-A.

Meanwhile, it might be interesting to ascertain how the pro-India Kashmiri politicians, sitting at the table, would answer this likely move by Modi.

Except for Mehbooba Mufti, other Kashmiri leaders in their pre-June 24 individual interactions with Indian authorities had reportedly shown flexibility on the difficulty of statehood without autonomy. But at a gathering of the ‘Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’ on Tuesday, the component parties besides deciding to attend the meeting agreed on maintaining a joint stance on the problems to be negotiated there.

These parties had within the past, through the 2 Gupkar Declarations, vowed to collectively strive for the restoration of the identity, autonomy, and special status of the state through the restoration of Articles 370 and 35-A. it might be worth watching if these leaders abide by their commitments made in Gupkar Declaration or pass their individual political considerations and accept statehood without autonomy.

Terming the meeting “cordial” and “positive”, People’s Conference leader Muzzafar Hussain Baig said PM Modi assured that he will do everything to form Jammu and Kashmir a zone of peace instead of conflict. “All leaders demanded statehood. To which PM said, the delimitation process should conclude first then other issues are going to be addressed. it had been a satisfactory meeting. There was complete unanimity for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” Baig added.

Ahead of the meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Congress President Ghulam Ahmad Mir said they might raise the difficulty of statehood at the all-party meet convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “People within the state are shocked after the developments in 2019. We’ll await Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda for today’s meeting and respond accordingly,” he said.

Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are on high alert as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of mainstream parties in J&K, in New Delhi today.

The Centre sees the Delhi talks, the primary since the stripping of the special status of J&K and its bifurcation into two Union Territories in 2019, as a big step towards the return of elected representatives and therefore the holding of Assembly elections subsequently within the two UTs to finish Central rule imposed in June 2018.

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