Kashmiri Pandits express disappointment at not being invited in PM’s meeting with J&K leaders

New Delhi : Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with the mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir here to discuss the future course of action for the Union Territory, Panun Kashmir, an organisation of migrant Kashmiri Pandits has expressed their disappointment at not being invited for the meeting.

According to the sources, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, Panun Kashmir convener Dr Agnishekhar wrote, ”The previous UPA government had taken our opinion by inviting us to three round table conferences, no matter what the result was.”

“Not only this, as the convener of Panun Kashmir, I have taken a delegation to meet former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee five times when he was in office” he said.

Mr Modi is all set to chair a meeting with the mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir here on Thursday afternoon.

The dialogue with the Kashmiri leaders would be first of its kind since August 5, 2019 when the Centre stripped the erstwhile state of its special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.

On June 19, the Centre sent formal invitations to four former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mehbooba Mufti, besides four Deputy Chief Ministers – Muzafar Hussain Beigh, Tara Chand, Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.

Leaders of six other political parties — Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of CPI(M), Sajad Gani Lone of Peoples Conference, Mohammad Altaf Bukhari of Apni Party, Prof Bhim Singh of Panthers Party, Ravinder Raina of BJP and G A Mir of Congress were also invited.

The meeting to be held at the Prime Minister’s official residence with Home Minister Amit Shah in attendance, is expected to chalk out the road map for holding Assembly elections and the ongoing delimitation process there.

Meanwhile, Dr Abdullah, who is the chairman of the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) — an amalgam of five political parties — had said that the alliance leaders will attend the meeting to know what the Centre has to say as there is no formal agenda for it.

Although no official agenda has been announced for the meeting, the Jammu and Kashmir leaders have indicated that they would be pressing for the restoration of Article 370 and full statehood besides release of political detainees.

However, according to sources, the government might not agree on restoring the special status but may consider returning the statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Ms Mufti reached the National Capital last night, while senior Abdullah has left this morning. Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone are already here.

The development comes against the backdrop of backchannel talks between India and Pakistan over restoring peace at international border and Line of Control and US President Joe Biden announcing withdrawal of all American troops from war-torn Afghanistan on September 11 which is partially being controlled by the Taliban.