Govt keeps no record of ‘APM with J-K politicians’, reveals RTI

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The Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs have not kept any record of the much famed All Party Meet (APM) with politicians of Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) that was held on 24 June last year, revealed a Right to Information (RTI) response.

The meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi was the major development of the year 2021 and was the first outreach to J-K based politicians since August 5, 2019, when the erstwhile state was stripped of its special status, bifurcated  into two union territories  – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Kashmir based activist and a lawyer Naveed Bukhtiyar through RTI had sought minutes of the meeting that was also attended by the Home Minister Amit Shah, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha besides several politicians of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a response to the RTI application filed in December last year to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs whose response was sent on 13 January 2022 read that “no such information was held by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO)”. 

The letter read, “Please refer to your RTI applications bearing registration number …………….. as transferred by the Prime Minister’s office to provide information under RTI Act 2005. The information sought in the application is not held by undersigned CPIO”.

It further said, “In this regard it is informed that under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, only such information can be supplied that is available in the records of the public authority and is held by or under the control of CPIO”.

Bukhtiyar said that the RTI application was filed with the Prime Minister Office (PMO)  which was transferred to the Ministry of Home affairs. “It has responded by saying that such information is not held by undersigned PIO. Which clearly means that the office has no record of such a meeting,” he said.

“There are chances that they are hiding something,” said Bukhtiyar and termed non-availability of record of such a high level meeting as “unfortunate”. 

The meeting was historical as the politicians associated with Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) – an amalgam of several political parties of J-K – which is at loggerheads with the Centre government over the decision that was taken on 5 August were part of the meeting. Several politicians associated with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dubbed PAGD as “Gupkar Gang”.

Justice Hasnain Masoodi (retired), a constitutional expert and Parliamentarian from Kashmir said that he doesn’t understand why there were no details of the meeting available. 

Since the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that the office does not keep the details of the meeting, Masoodi said, “I think possibly there was not any set agenda of the meeting that is why there are no minutes of the meeting available”.

The Kashmir Walla tried to reach the Prime Minister’s office for comments over the issue but it could not materialise.

Politicians of Jammu and Kashmir who attended the meeting include four chief ministers of erstwhile state – Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Gh Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah. Deputy chief ministers of the erstwhile state of J-K including Dr Nirmal Singh, Kavinder Gupta, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh were part of the high level meeting.

The meeting was also attended by Dr M Y Tarigami, Ravinder Raina, Altaf Bukhari, Tara Chand, Sajad Gani Lone, Prof Bhim Singh.

In the meeting PM Modi, as per the members who attended it, had asserted to remove Dilli ki Doori (the distance from Delhi) as well as Dil Ki Doori (the distance from the heart).

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