Calcutta:

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Thursday that “wresting” statehood from Jammu and Kashmir by the BJP-led central government has brought shame to the country.

Banerjee made the comment in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with leaders of various Jammu and Kashmir political parties in New Delhi.

“I am not aware of this meeting. I do not even know the meeting agenda,” he told reporters.

“Snatching” the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation did not help the country in any way, said Banerjee, also supreme of the Trinamool Congress.

On August 5, 2019, the Center revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and forked it into two union territories: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

In the government’s first approach to Jammu and Kashmir’s political leadership since then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with 14 leaders, including four former senior ministers, on Thursday to chart the future course of action in the union territory.

“What was the need to remove statehood (from J&K)? This has not helped the country at all. For the past two years, tourists were not allowed to travel to Kashmir. It became a matter of the country’s prestige.”

“The autocracy there has brought enough disgrace to the country, similar to what (Covid) vaccines have done,” he said.

Although Ms Banerjee did not elaborate on the vaccine issue, she had previously spoken out in protest at the shortage of vaccine supplies, differentiated prices, and the lack of a universal vaccination policy. It has also attacked the export of vaccines at a time when stocks in India were low.