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Modi-Mehbooba Meet Called Off

Government formation in Jammu and Kashmir has run into rough weather as the scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti was “called off without any reason" in New Delhi on Friday. Sources said demand for fresh guarantees on the “constitutional integrity" of J&K may have soured the relationship between the alliance partners. The meeting with Mr. Modi was to be a follow-up to the “positive" meet of Ms. Mufti and BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi, which lasted an hour.

Earlier the Army had expressed willingness to relocate troops in the State, a key condition laid down by Ms. Mufti for government formation. Sources said the spade work for the meetings was done by BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and PDP leader Haseeb Drabu, who is camping in New Delhi.

Speaking to the media in New Delhi, Mr. Madhav described the talks with the PDP “as fruitful as it was two months ago." “There can be no government on any fresh conditions. A government [in J&K] has to be in place to take up issues with the Centre for any progress. Unfortunately, sitting Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed died during the course of the ongoing coalition government. Nothing has changed otherwise," said Mr. Madhav.

Reacting to Mr. Madhav's remarks, PDP leader Nayeem Akhtar told The Media that the 'Agenda of the Alliance' is “a sacred document to the PDP." “There is a feeling that the Agenda is perhaps being treated just as a piece of paper or an arrangement of power-sharing. We want to dispel that notion [before forming the government]," said Mr. Akhtar.

Land to be handed over:- In another development, at his meeting with Governor N.N. Vohra, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, expressed willingness to relocate troops from the areas identified by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed last year. A Raj Bhavan spokesman said the Army would hand over 16.30 acres near the Jammu University, the 212-acre Tatoo Grounds in Srinagar, the 456.60-acre high grounds in Anantnag and lower land of Khurba Thang in Kargil to the civilian administration.

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