The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again reiterated that steps would be taken for restoration of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir “at an early opportunity”. The PM made this statement while meeting a 24-member delegation of the newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, led by its leader Altaf Bukhari. Referring to his statement in Parliament, the PM underlined that his government will work with all sections of the population to realize the hopes of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity. Calling for ‘Janbhagidari’ (people’s participation) in transforming Jammu and Kashmir, the PM emphasised on the importance of an administration that gives voice to the people. Modi also noted that democracy in the region could be strengthened through a fast-moving process of political integration.
Through these columns, we have been all along emphasizing that what Jammu and Kashmir needs the most is restoration of political process. A place like Jammu and Kashmir can’t be perpetually left to be run by bureaucrats. It needs elected representatives who are connected with the masses and therefore are aware of the issues and problems faced by them. Citizens here have a right, a democratic right, to choose the government of their liking. To put the political process back on the track, restoration of statehood could be the first step.
Erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories – Ladakh and J&K last year. History bears witness that from India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru to the incumbent Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, everyone would refer to Jammu and Kashmir state as “the crown of India”. Reducing this crown to mere union territories has been a shock for the entire populations which already suffered badly due to the conflict between India and Pakistan. This population deserved a better not degradation.
Now that the Prime Minister has again reiterated his government’s intentions of restoring the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir, let the promise be transformed into reality. That said, the government should release political leaders forthwith, allow them space for peaceful political activities, create a peaceful atmosphere and hold assembly elections. Let general masses be the part of the political process and let them decided who they want to represent them.