New Delhi, Jun 24 (PTI) Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Thursday expressed gratitude to the Centre for initiating a dialogue with the political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, saying 'solution to J&K's problem lies in the democratic set up'.
Bukhari, who was among the 14 politicians from Jammu and Kashmir who attended the all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, pleaded for early hearing of Article 370 in the Supreme Court, restoration of statehood and early assembly elections.
The former minister also demanded constitutional protection for land, jobs and natural resources for local residents, youth policy, delimitation on merit and better inter-regional connectivity, according to a statement issued by the party after the meeting.
During the meet, Bukhari expressed gratitude to the prime minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for initiating a much needed political dialogue with all shades of the political spectrum of Jammu and Kashmir. 'We are here to put our heads together and to agree on certain things and to differ on many but at the end of this meeting I hope we will be able to arrive at a sustainable and meaningful roadmap keeping in view the best interests and the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,' he said.
Bukhari said his party's paramount demands have been restoration of statehood, early assembly elections, delimitation on merit and a constitutional mechanism that protects the rights of residents of Jammu and Kashmir on their land, jobs and natural resources besides expediting the hearing of the Supreme Court on Article 370 and 35-A.
He also stressed on the need for augmentation of infrastructure in education, health, power, jal shakti, tourism, hospitality, agriculture, horticulture and industrial sectors to boost the distressed economy in J&K. 'We adopted an honest political approach both in Delhi and J&K wherein we expressed our belief that only the two main forums in the country—Parliament and the judiciary are the custodian of peoples' constitutional rights and which were done away with in Jammu and Kashmir unilaterally,' he said.
Bukhari stressed on the urgent demands of people calling for confidence building political measures that will set in motion a genuine democratic exercise in Jammu and Kashmir.
He also emphasized on fulfillment of promises made by the country's leadership on the floor of Parliament vis-à-vis restoration of statehood.
Besides other issues, the statement said, the main demands which were raised by the Apni Party president during the meeting included constitutional safeguards for protection of land and jobs in J&K.
'The August 5 (2019) decisions have left indelible marks on the psyche of the people of J&K especially with regard to their special rights on employment under government services, acquisition of immovable property, settlement in the state and, of course, defining such residents,' the statement said.
Bukhari vehemently argued for a tangible legal and constitutional mechanism to be put in place to safeguard these privileges of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
'The people of Jammu and Kashmir wish and aspire for an early hearing of the Supreme Court in petition on Articles 370 and 35-A,” he said, adding the central government must ensure that the solicitor general of India has no objections in parties seeking pre-ponement of the hearing of the matter.
On holding of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest, Bukhari said no bureaucratic set-up can replace or prove to be a dependable substitute to an elected government.
'The People in J&K feel helpless, dejected and at odds with the administrative set-up and want elections to be held so that their problems are addressed on priority,” he said.
Referring to delimitation exercise, Bhukari said the process is still being viewed as a politically motivated exercise which has raised many concerns in Jammu and Kashmir.
'People are concerned that adjustment of boundaries and description of the extent of parliamentary constituencies has been thrust to pit one region against other for some political mileage. This serious issue needs to be addressed,' he said, pleading that the delimitation exercise must be based on merit and demographic rationale.
He also talked about empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions and local bodies in letter and spirit, better inter-regional connectivity through all weather roads and tunnels besides cap on airfare. PTI SKL ANB ANB