Apni Party head meets PM, demands restoration of statehood

Altaf Bukhari seeks early rehabilitation of Pandits without creating divisions in society.

Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari on January 25 called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and placed a number of demands, including the restoration of statehood to the Union Territory (U.T.) of J&K, before him.

In an hour-long meeting, Mr. Bukhari, who split from the Peoples Democratic Party and floated his own after the abrogation of the special status, has pressed for the early restoration of statehood, youth employment policy, restoration of 4G Internet and return of Kashmiri Pandits.

“Restoration of statehood is the first and foremost demand of the people of J&K who are eagerly waiting for its fulfilment. Statehood is a reference to the glorious past and a privilege for solidification of the idea of pluralism and respectful coexistence in J&K like any other State,” Mr. Bukhari said.

He described the meeting, his second since March, as ‘cordial’.

Terming migrant Kashmiri Pandits as “an inseparable part of J&K”, Mr. Bukhari demanded “early rehabilitation of Pandits with dignity”.

“The Centre should make special efforts to ensure that the Pandits return to the land of their ancestors with full dignity and an assured livelihood. The policy needs to be framed in such a way that their return does not create any divisions within society. For formulation and implementation of such a policy the other communities in J&K need to be kept on board.”

Mr. Bukhari also thanked the Prime Minister for sanctioning a special package for the revival of the industrial sector. “The youth in J&K are extremely alienated due to multiple reasons. This alienation makes most of them an easy fodder for those elements who want to foment trouble,” he said.

The Apni Party leader also sought PM Modi’s intervention in the restoration of 4G Internet. “The ban is nearing two years. This unjustifiable ban has caused huge inconvenience to the people especially students and traders’ community in J&K.”

The party, which is the first regional political one that does not seek any special status for J&K, also demanded age relaxation for local aspirants appearing for the UPSC examination. The government recently scrapped the age relaxation clause to the domicile of J&K.

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