SRINAGAR: If officials are to be believed, the Centre is in talks with jailed former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and also with some other political parties, including the People’s Conference of Sajjad Gani Lone, in order to restore political activities in the Kashmir Valley.

Political reaching out, change of some advisors along with Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik are some of the items on the table as the Centre is going to officially declare Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as two Union Territories on 31 October.

Highly-placed official sources told this newspaper that Governor Malik was likely to be replaced by some new Governor for Jammu and Kashmir, while the panel is ready for a Lt Governor for Ladakh. These sources said that in the council of ministers for J&K UT, apart from two senior retired bureaucrats, there were names of two former ministers from Kashmir—one was in the Cabinet of Omar Abdullah and the other in the Cabinet of Mehbooba Mufti. Similarly, in the panel for Lt Governor for Ladakh UT, apart from retired bureaucrats, there was name of a retired Army General besides names of some prominent local leaders from Leh and Kargil.

Governor Malik is likely to be replaced as the Centre is allegedly not happy with his utterances on many sensitive issues in the valley. Malik has been talking incessantly about the situation, making very controversial remarks over the prevailing situation in Kashmir.

Regarding the political reach-out, the Centre is keen to start a new chapter in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh UTs. In this direction, the government has taken a lot of measures, including push to the tourism sector, especially for Kashmir. The Centre is keen to normalise the situation. “We are confident to normalise the situation in the coming months and we are sure that there would be a new era of development in Kashmir valley from 2020,” a senior official privy to the developments said.

The government has also started the process of releasing political prisoners in Kashmir in a phased manner.

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