Amid a deep trust deficit in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a surprise move, seems to have extended the olive branch with an invite to major political leaders for a meeting on Thursday, 24 June.
The meeting will consist of fourteen political leaders, while other invitees on the list include former chief ministers, such as National Conference's Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad.
This would be the first such exercise to be held between the Centre and Kashmir’s mainstream political leaders since J&K was stripped of its statehood.
What is curious though is that despite the meeting being called, the agenda behind the meeting still remains to be a mystery, and that has left many mainstream parties, leaders, and experts with a lot of guesswork on what PM Modi has on his mind.
The dialogue between the Valley’s senior leaders and New Delhi has remained frozen in the wake of unceremonious arrests and prolonged detention of many political leaders, including those on the invitee list.
Furthermore, comments from the saffron party's top brass against Kashmiri political leaders, including being called anti-national or the “Gupkar Gang” by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has, of course, soured the relations further.
Which begs the question – why the sudden move to call for a democratic sit down? Is it just an optics play for the West, who has been criticising the Centre’s handling of Kashmir? Or could restoration of statehood for the erstwhile state be on the table?
To discuss this in detail, we spoke with journalist and author of books ‘The Story of Kashmir’ and ‘The Generation of Rage in Kashmir David Devadas, and Srinagar-based freelance journalist Jehangir Ali, for today’s episode. You will also hear from People’s Democratic Party Spokesperson MY Tarigami and People’s Conference Party Spokesperson Adnan Ashraf.