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'This was the first time PM listened patiently'

By RASHME SEHGAL
July 01, 2021 08:21 IST
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'...for three hours to the seven or eight of us who spoke at the meeting.'
'Talking together and allowing us to express our thoughts on these important issues is a good beginning.'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi at his meeting with Kashmiri leaders, June 24, 2021. Photograph: PTI Photo

What is the secret of the success of Kashmiri's Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami?

Not only has he been winning election after election in the militant-infested constituency of Kulgam in south Kashmir from 1996 onwards, he has also ensured that the Left continues to retain a presence in the valley.

During the recent District Development Council elections, the CPI-M won five of the six seats it contested in the valley.

Spokesperson for the Gupkar Alliance, Tarigami was one of the 14 Kashmiri leaders Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi invited to his residence a week ago, June 24.

"Political issues cannot be responded to by security measures. This is a universal truth. Sadly, those who matter and at present most of all, measure their success by the silence of the people," Tarigami tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal. The first of a two-part interview:

 

What was your reaction following the meeting with the prime minister?

I raised a few points in the course of our interaction.

I informed him that it would have been much more useful if such a meeting had been convened prior to the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

A fundamental tool of democracy is the ability to listen to each other's point of view.

I do not know why such a line of action was not pursued.

I had met the prime minister earlier, but this was the first time that he listened patiently for three hours to the seven or eight of us who spoke at the meeting.

Talking together and allowing us to express our thoughts on these important issues is a good beginning.

Do you believe there is a change of heart in the government?

Being a political being, I cannot comment on the government, but the fact remains that I must reiterate that we were not consulted on the whole revocation exercise.

I raised this issue again in the course of the meeting, but was met with silence.

The government is keen to hold elections in the state.

This was what was told to us by the home minister.

The home minister categorically said the delimitation process must be completed prior to holding of elections in J&K.

Most of us raised the issue of restoration of statehood.

The restoration of Article 370 and Article 35 A was raised by some of us, but the prime minister chose not to reply on this matter.

Replying to our concern of the issue of statehood, the home minister said statehood will be given at an appropriate time.

But he did not explain when this would be the case.

What will the delimitation process involve for the Union territory?

Earlier, our assembly had amended our state constitution and had decided to go in for delimitation along with the rest of the country when a new census would be conducted along with all other states.

Then the Reorganisation Act was passed (J&K Reorganisation Act 2019).

The government has set up the Delimitation Commission of India.

I posed the question before the prime minister pointing out that in Assam elections had been held putting the whole delimitation exercise on hold, why should delimitation be a precondition in J&K, but he chose not reply.

The issue of revocation of Article 370 was raised by Dr (Farooq) Abdullah, by Mehbooba Mufti and by me.

Ghulam Nabi Azad raised it and he said the Congress party believes that since the issue was in court, that it should not be debated just now.

How will this delimitation process be conducted?

They have told us categorically first delimitation and then elections.

They have reiterated that they will restore statehood at an appropriate time.

But delimitation will see them increase the number of seats in Jammu?

There are a lot of apprehensions. I personally feel that better wisdom should prevail on the Delimitation Commission of India.

I believe they should conduct this exercise basing it on the basis of 2011 census. I hope credibility of the Delimitation Commission will be protected.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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