Former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha led Concerned Citizens’ Group (CCG) in its report after meeting political leaders in the Valley said it is most unlikely that the People’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) would not accept the Delhi model of statehood in which the effective power over public order, police and enacting laws is vested in the Centre and the “government” is defined as the Lieutenant Governor, not the elected Executive.
“Unsurprisingly, apprehensions about the Delhi-model of statehood were raised by the Congress during the meeting of the J&K leaders with the Prime Minister on June 24. Even statehood with the rider that the Centre would retain Home and Finance would never be accepted in the Valley. Nor is it likely to resonate in Jammu and Ladakh. Within the BJP’s support base in the Jammu region, there appear to be stirrings of demand for full statehood,” the report says.
The Concerned Citizens’ Group (CCG) made its ninth visit to Kashmir from July 5 to 7, 2021. The latest visit came in the wake of a meeting called by the Indian prime minister on June 24 of all the J&K political parties. The report says while there was much expectation centred on the meeting, especially related to the restoration of the statehood of J&K, it turned out to be more about the Centre seeking the support of the mainstream political parties from Jammu and Kashmir for the delimitation exercise necessitated by the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019 and legislative assembly elections thereafter.
The CCG comprises, former External Affairs Minister of India Yashwant Sinha, Executive Secretary, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Delhi Sushobha Barve; Former Chairman of the Minorities Commission and the first Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah, Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Kapil Kak and former editor and independent journalist Bharat Bhushan.
During the visit, the CCG members met leaders of political parties including former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Chief Spokesperson of the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, and former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig and civil society activists from both South and North Kashmir, members of the Kashmir Economic Forum, representatives of trade bodies and the Horticulture sector.
“The J&K political parties have been jolted alive by the sudden revival of dialogue with Delhi, even though they may not be able to control the way it is unfolding. However, the mood of the Kashmiri people remained downcast. They were not enthused by either the political parties engaging with the delimitation exercise or the prospect of elections to the legislative assembly of a shrunk Union Territory. The people’s mood was marked by lack of expectations from the State, a pervasive sense of hopelessness not witnessed by this Group earlier and deep-seated despondency in the youth,” the report says.
Quoting a Kashmiri intellectual, the report says June 24 meeting with the Prime Minister will not lead the people anywhere near a solution. “Before August 5, 2019, there was only a Kashmir problem that India faced. Now India has created four problems – one in Leh, another in Kargil, unhappy Hindus in Jammu, and the continuing problem in the Kashmir Valley. Issues of land rights and the potential of a demographic Tsunami have made people in all the regions of the (erstwhile) J&K unhappy. So what kind of politics is India following?” “India’s political, economic, and moral dysfunctionality has not only made things worse for the Kashmiris but also for India vis-à-vis the world. The message of the world seems to be -- ‘Be careful about India as it is in danger in a very real way’.”
The report says under President’s Rule in the J&K, politics has been pushed to the background, and the administration is run by a Cabinet of advisors of the Lieutenant Governor and the permanent state bureaucracy whose accountability is only to their superior officers and not to the people. "Our Group was repeatedly told by the people we met that the bureaucrats in positions that require public interface were all outsiders.”
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