India’s Modi to meet Kashmir politicians to set political process rolling
By Sarwar Kashani and Shah Abbas
Srinagar, India, June 23 (EFE).- Pro-India politicians will urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the autonomous status of Kashmir when they meet him on Thursday to set the political process rolling for the first time since the government stripped the disputed region of its special status.
But experts are skeptical about the Hindu-nationalist leader agreeing to reverse the controversial Aug.5, 2019 move that also led to snatching the statehood and bifurcation of what was once India’s only Muslim-majority state disputed with Pakistan.
There are speculations that Modi might offer the restoration of the statehood to Kashmir when he meets the politicians from the region battling decades of an anti-India armed rebellion.
The politicians meeting the prime minister include those who were jailed, along with thousands of rights activists, traders, and commoners, in the aftermath of the contentious 2019 decision that also heightened India-Pakistan tensions.
“We hope to keep our agenda before Modi,” former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah told reporters on Tuesday.
He spoke to reporters after he went into a huddle with his alliance partners to discuss the possible outcomes of the meeting.
Abdullah was among the pro-India politicians Modi had arrested with other ex-chief ministers, including his son Omar and Mehbooba Mufti.
Mufti said the restoration of statehood would be no favor to Kashmir.
“Statehood is the commitment made to people in parliament. We are demanding the restoration of the special status that was taken away from us in 2019,” Mufti told EFE.
Abdullah and Mufti also demand the abrogation of controversial laws framed and executed by bureaucrats allegedly to change the Muslim demography of Kashmir.
“We strongly demand and stress for the restoration of pre-August 2019 Jammu and Kashmir,” Mufti said.
Despite renewed political activities after a gap of nearly two years, people remain skeptical of any desired outcome from Modi’s meeting as anti-India politicians continue to languish in jails.
“How can a meeting resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue when most of the resistance leaders and activists are in jails,” Iqbal, a dry fruit seller in Srinagar, the main city of Kashmir, told EFE.
The small-trader only gave his middle name, fearing retribution from the government for speaking to the media as police allegedly harass and arrest people for voicing dissent.
“Kashmir dispute involves three parties (India, Pakistan and Kashmiri people) and any resolution must satisfy all the three,” Iqbal said.
Many also believe that Modi may offer elections for the dis-empowered assembly for a democratic cover to its controversial Kashmir policies as power remains with his unelected representative called the lieutenant governor.
Shawkat Parray, a college teacher, told EFE that he could “not expect” anything more than elections from the rigid Indian government.
He said India had been doing that “ever since it sent its troops to the region in 1947.”
External factors have also come into play amid widely reported back-channel talks between India and Pakistan allegedly brokered by the United Arab Emirates.