‘Farooq Abdullah has committed to meet the delimitation commission if invited’.


Srinagar: From Mehbooba Mufti to Sajad Gani Lone to Omar Abdullah, all leaders who participated in the all party-meeting held on 24 June for a political way out in Jammu and Kashmir, have said that the onus lies on New Delhi to build trust after abrogation of Article 370.

While most of the participants from Kashmir expressed their doubts and apprehensions about the delimitation commission exercise, one of the participants in the meeting told this newspaper that Home Minister Amit Shah said that the exercise has to be completed before there is any decision on elections or on the restoration of statehood.

“Even on statehood, both PM and Amit Shah listened and did not give any timeline for its restoration. It was an ice-breaking meeting, but now it is up to New Delhi to make it a fruitful exercise,” one of the participants in the meeting told this newspaper.

Insiders in the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) said that through back channels, Farooq Abdullah has committed to meet the delimitation commission if invited and it is most likely that the National Conference will participate in the exercise.

“Only we are conceding on everything and the BJP government at the Centre is not responding. We will meet the delimitation commission and will have to wait whether they keep their promise of restoration of statehood before elections,” one of the NC leaders told this newspaper.

He said that there is a lot of unease within the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) and National Conference also, as there is no firm commitment from the central government regarding the restoration of statehood before elections.

In order to clear the air about the reported silence by many J&K leaders during all-party meeting, Sajad Gani Lone of Peoples Conference held a press conference in Srinagar on Thursday and said that all the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir reflected pain and sufferings of common people during the meeting and made their people proud.

As the delimitation commission is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir between 6-9 July, participation of mainstream political parties in the meetings is most likely, especially that of the National Conference, as its three MPs from Kashmir valley are associate members of the commission.

Asked about the participation in the delimitation commission meetings, Sajad Lone said that they will join the meetings, but the commission will have to be fair and transparent, not only between the two regions (Kashmir and Jammu), but also within the regions.

Earlier, the PAGD, J&K Congress and other political parties had pleaded with the Union Home Minister that the delimitation exercise should be conducted after the J&K Assembly elections are held. They also contested the census timeline as reportedly the delimitation commission is going by 2011 census report, while parties like National Conference and PDP want them to start with the census report of 2021.

Such fears about the delimitation exercise were also expressed by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who objected to the delimitation exercise being done only in Jammu and Kashmir and also raised the question that it should be as per the Census 2021. The fresh exercise between Srinagar and New Delhi, largely initiated behind the veil by some retired intelligence officers, hinges on how New Delhi responds to the restoration of statehood before elections.

Insiders said that Farooq Abdullah has reportedly promised that New Delhi will restore statehood and PAGD and other parties should participate in a delimitation exercise to make an enabling environment for New Delhi to proceed further. But both National Conference and PAGD leadership are fingers crossed as most of such promises in the past from New Delhi have not been fulfilled.