Centre For Peace and Progress, an NGO, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after holding a round table conference in New Delhi over Article 370, restoration of statehood and holding of elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
In the letter, a copy of which lies with news agency, it informed PM Modi that they held a round table discussion on “Another Look At Articles 35A & 370: Statehood for & Elections in Jammu & Kashmir” among a cross section of people from J&K & other states at IIC on June 17.
The letter reads that they would like to bring to his attention the noteworthy views that emerged from the free discussion, which include constitutional impropriety for which the participants expressed concern that the abrogation of Article 370 & Article 35A was carried out without the involvement of the people of erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir & in the absence of their elected representatives.
“They described the action as Constitutional Impropriety that undermined commitments made by successive governments & the architects of accession without regard for history. They emphasized that the downgrading of the state & its division has led to marginalization& dissatisfaction among the people of J&K.
However one of the participants disagreed with the views & blamed regional parties for disregarding national interest & for having misused special status guaranteed under Articles370 & 35A.She held them responsible for the communalization of J&K & abusing Constitutional instruments, which resulted in separatism & terrorism.”
It added that Denial Of Democratic Rights; The denial of Democratic Rights & the absence of Assembly elections were seen as disempowering factors, causing distress & deepening the existing trust deficit. “The participants hoped that the Election Commission holds assembly elections soon, allowing the people of J&K to exercise their democratic rights freely & choose their representatives to restore faith in the democratic processes of the nation.”
“One of the participants differed again putting the onus on the mainstream regional parties & their approach, which led to the death & destruction of people & deferred democratic rights. She suggested that democratic processes in J&K will be either incomplete or meaningless until socio – economic rehabilitation including political empowerment of Kashmiri Pandits is ensured.”
It further added Security & Violence: There was near unanimity that peace continued to elude the region & violence still claimed innocent lives. This indicated lack of clear policy for sustainable peace & security.
“Alienation, Fear & deficit of Trust: Economic distress, denial of audience, political disempowerment, communalization of J&K, unfulfilled commitments made in Parliament, failure to acknowledge ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits, failure to compensate the community socially, politically & economically & failure to ensure their safe return & rehabilitation, excessive use of state power to suppress the voice of the people& the absence of dialogue were identified as contributing factors to a sense of alienation, fear &a deficit of trust among the populace.”
As per the letter, it also offered recommendations for consideration that include restoration of statehood, stating that it is essential to address the concerns raised by the participants.
“Conduct early elections to Assembly : Holding elections at the earliest is crucial to regain the confidence of the people. It will be a significant step towards rebuilding democratic institutions for people – friendly governance in the region. Facilitating legal disposal of cases on Article 370 & Article 35A : The pending petitions related to Article 370 & Article 35A in the Supreme Court should be given early disposal, considering their wider constitutional consequences.”
It added that addressing unemployment & distressing economy: Efforts should be made to address the issue of unemployment & revive the economy of J&K.
“Comprehensive measures , including skill development programs, promotional entrepreneurship & attracting investments, should be implemented to improve the overall economic well-being of the region.”
As per the letter return & rehabilitation of pandits: Recognizing the urgency to address the long pending issue of the Pandits, the efforts for their return & rehabilitation should be expedited under a result oriented & sustainable policy.
“Foster Dialogue & Reconciliation: Meaningful dialogues & reconciliation initiatives should be undertaken to address the grievances & aspirations of all stakeholders in J&K. Focus on Sustainable Peace & Security: Efforts should be made to establish sustainable peace & security in J&K.