PM Modi Assured Statehood Will Be Restored, Says New J&K Party After Meet

The delegation was headed by the party's president Altaf Bukhari. "The gap between people and local administration and centre needs to go. We raised this issue," he said.

PM Modi Assured Statehood Will Be Restored, Says New J&K Party After Meet

The delegation was headed by the JKAP chief Altaf Bukhari.

From full statehood to domicile rights to protection of their land and jobs - Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP)  demanded it all when they met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening. The meeting gained importance as this was the first time the Prime Minister met any political outfit from Jammu and Kashmir since the centre revoked Article 370, that granted special status to J&K, last year.

The delegation was headed by the party's president Altaf Bukhari. "The gap between people and local administration and centre needs to go. We raised this issue," he said.

Projecting itself as a third front against two main political parties - National Conference and the People's Democratic Party – the JKAP asked PM Modi to restore full statehood.

"A sense of loss is there among people after mighty state like Jammu Kashmir was reduced to a UT. So we asked the centre to restore statehood," Gulam Hasan Mir, one of the main architects of JKAP, told NDTV.

The delegation also raised concerns of people relating jobs, education and their business.

"We asked the PM to bring in domicile law to protect rights of our children," Mr Mir added.

According to him, talks about delimitation have also triggered a sense of fear among people. "In Jammu and Kashmir, people are of the view that this is being done to disempower them. We raised this issue as well. PM has assures us nothing would be done to disempower citizens," Mir said.

"PM Modi said no demographic changes will be done. He is a man of commitment. His heart beats for people of Jammu and Kashmir," Mr Bukhari said.

In an two-hour-long meeting, PM listened to all two dozen delegates. "PM assured us that all steps would be taken for the betterment of region," Mr Bukhari added.

JKAP compromises of several former National Conference and PDP leaders and members.

While Mr Bukhari was a finance minister in the Mehbooba Mufti government, Mr Mir is known for his pro-India politics. He also was one of the founding members of the PDP and later also a minister in Omar Abdullah's cabinet.

Interestingly, while PM Modi met JKAP leaders in Delhi, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who was released on Friday, met his son Omar Abdullah in Srinagar and also Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

"PM met delegates for two hours. If he gives in to even some of their demands he would be giving them credibility," a senior functionary in the government told NDTV.

Critics, however, say everyone knows the reality of JKAP and who is behind its formation. "No one bought the idea of JKAP as a third front neither in Kashmir or Jammu," said a former bureaucrat.

Officials in the government state that Farooq Abdullah has been released and its matter of time before both former chief ministers - Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti - are also released. "It's now a level playing field for everyone and very healthy for democracy," said a senior officer.