Kashmiri leaders urge Modi to restore region’s autonomy

New Delhi has struggled for decades to tone down secessionist sentiments in what had been its only Muslim-majority state, accusing neighboring Pakistan of supporting insurgencies in the Himalayan region, which Islamabad denies.

Reaffirming control of New Delhi in August 2019, Modi abolished Article 370 of the Constitution, ending the region’s autonomy and removing its statehood by dividing it into the federal territories of Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K) and Ladakh, dominated by Buddhists.

Some of the politicians who were due to meet with Modi on Thursday were among the thousands detained at the time to prevent a backlash against the shock movement. The government also imposed communication restrictions for months in the highly sensitive Kashmir Valley to stifle opposition.

“Our agenda is the restoration of the status of Jammu and Kashmir before August 5, 2019,” Democratic People’s Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti told her colleagues on Sunday, according to two officials who attended. the online meeting.

Senior National Conference leaders also met over the weekend and supported a decision to push for the restoration of the state and special status, a party official said.

“We will push for both of these demands during the meeting with the prime minister,” the official said. The three officials declined to be named because the discussions were private.

Representatives of the PDP and the National Conference will meet on Tuesday with other members of an alliance formed last year to seek a peaceful restoration of Kashmir’s autonomy, to prepare for their talks with the prime minister, said PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari.

The 2019 decision to withdraw autonomy from Indian-administered Kashmir sparked a strong reaction from Pakistan, leading to a deterioration of diplomatic relations and a suspension of trade.

But nuclear-weapon neighbors have held secret talks this year in an effort to reduce tensions and have agreed to observe a ceasefire along the disputed Kashmir border.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari to SRINAGAR, written by Devjyot Ghoshal; editing by Sanjeev Miglani & Simon Cameron-Moore)

By Fayaz Boukhari

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