Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], June 24 (ANI): Amid the ongoing all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with top leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday questioned the Centre's decision of scrapping statehood from Jammu and Kashmir while adding that the "autocratic" move has "disreputed" the nation.
Briefing mediapersons, Banerjee said, "What was the need to scrap the statehood in Jammu and Kashmir? People need freedom. Scrapping statehood did not help the country instead it impacted tourism in Jammu and Kashmir for the last two years. Further, it also disreputed the nation. The country has been disreputed not just because of the vaccine but also for this autocracy of the Centre."
The high-profile all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir began at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, Prime Minister's official residence in Delhi on Thursday afternoon.
As many as 14 prominent leaders from the Union Territory are attending the meeting.
This is the first high-level interaction between the Centre and political leadership mainly from Kashmir since August 5, 2019, when the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the state was bifurcated into two union territories.
Among the leaders who are participating in the meeting are Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tara Chand and GA Mir; National Conference's Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah; PDP's Mehbooba Mufti, J-K Apni Party's Altaf Bukhari; BJP's Ravinder Raina, Nirmal Singh, and Kavinder Gupta; CPI(M)'s M Y Tarigami; National Panthers Party's Prof Bheem Singh; and Peoples Conference's Sajad Gani Lone.
Asked about the impasse between the farmers and the Centre for more than seven months and allegations that involvement of foreign elements in the farmers' protest, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the protest is a democratic right for anybody and it is the BJP-led central government that calls people who do not concur with it 'anti-nationals'.
"BJP calls everybody terrorists and anti-national. Only the BJP is national. Anybody can protest be it, industrial workers or farmers. But the farmers demand to repeal the three black laws is completely genuine. I salute the farmers," stated Banerjee.
Notably, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait earlier this month in Kolkata.
Farmers have been protesting against the Centre's farm laws for the last six months. Many have camped at the borders of the national capital.
Despite several rounds of talks between the Centre and the farmer leaders last year, the deadlock remains.
Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26, 2020 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)