From ‘Azadi’, Kashmiris Now Want Statehood Back For Jammu and Kashmir

Indian PM Narendra Modi said on Saturday that his government will work to restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir “at an early opportunity”. This statement from PM Modi comes after seven months of revoking Article 370 of its constitution and ending the special status and statehood of the region.

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PM Modi made the statement during a meeting with the newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, led by its leader Altaf Bukhari. Earlier, New Delhi released former chief minister Farooq Abdullah from detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).

“Referring to his statement in Parliament, the PM Modi emphasised that the government will work with all sections of the population to realize the aspirations of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity,” said an official statement.

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PM Modi also called for people’s participation in reconstructing Jammu and Kashmir and underlined the value of the government that gives people a resounding voice. He also said democracy in the region could be bolstered through accelerated political integration, the statement said.

In August last year, the Modi government abolished Article 370 and many political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were detained.

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Union minister of state for home affairs G Kishan Reddy on Saturday said the government had no plan to keep Jammu and Kashmir leaders in detention.

“We have no intention to keep anyone in jail but in Jammu and Kashmir, some people had to be kept inside to continue the smooth running of the state. All people will be released soon,” Reddy said. “To give equal rights and development to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi abolished Article 370. Now the state is leading into a peaceful path,” Reddy said.

The meeting with Bukhari gained significance as this was the first time PM Modi met any political party from Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of  Article 370. According to Bukhari, talks about statehood, domicile rights and delimitation process have triggered a sense of fear among people.

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According to experts talking to the EurAsian Times, the attention of people and political parties has moved from so-called Azadi or freedom to ensuring statehood is restored in Jammu and Kashmir and all domicile right are kept intact.