Day after the Centre reportedly began sending feelers to political party leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for an all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on June 24, as many as 14 leaders, including four former chief ministers of the erstwhile state, got calls from the Prime Minister’s Office today, sources said.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla reportedly reached out to these leaders to invite them to the meeting at the prime minister’s residence to discuss the future course of action for the union territory, the officials said.
National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and son Omar Abdullah, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, were among those who got the call, sources said.
Four former deputy chief ministers of the erstwhile state — Congress leader Tara Chand, People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig, and BJP leaders Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta — too have been invited to the meet.
In addition, CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference, J&K Congress head G A Mir, BJP’s Ravinder Raina, and Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh have been invited to the meeting.
In all, the Centre plans to invite 16 political leaders from the UT to the meeting, sources said.
The meeting — the first such exercise since the Centre announced the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into union territories in August 2019 — is likely to be attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders.
When contacted, Omar Abdullah said that he had received an invitation and would go along the direction of the party chief. Sources in the National Conference said that over the next few days, the senior Abdullah will be holding consultations with party leaders. The Political Affairs Committee of the PDP would also be meeting on Sunday to take a decision about the talks.
Raina too confirmed receiving the invite in a tweet.
Covid-19 and security on agenda
Sources said the leaders have been requested to come to Delhi with a negative Covid-19 report. “Since it is an in-person meeting with the PM, a request has been made for a negative RT-PCR report for the leaders who would attend,” a source said.
The Union Home Ministry is said to be spearheading the arrangements for the meeting and Home Minister Amit Shah met L-G JK Manoj Sinha, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Chief Secretary of J&K, and several senior officers of the Kashmir division again to review the preparedness. The formal phone calls extending the invitation were reportedly made after this meeting that was held on Saturday morning.
Sources said the MHA is preparing to apprise the political leaders from J&K about the development and security situation in the Valley at the all-party meet.
A senior government functionary told News18 that PM Modi and HM Shah will give the leaders an opportunity to air their concerns too. “It is a meeting to share with them the plans for Jammu and Kashmir’s future. The home minister has repeatedly assured that statehood will be returned to J&K. He is leading the preparations for this meet,” the functionary said.
A decision on Amarnath Yatra could also be announced around the time the PM meets the J&K leaders.
DG CRPF Kuldiep Singh landed in the Valley on Saturday, hours after a detailed security review meeting in Delhi with Home Minister Shah and LG Sinha.
A CRPF statement said Singh visited the base camp of Pahalgam on Saturday and is expected to visit Baltal on Sunday. Both are the base camps for the Amarnath Yatra.