Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday vowed to bring back Article 370 which he claimed was forcibly taken away from the valley region. Addressing a crowd, the National Conference leader said he along with others will fight to gain the trust of the people, and then together knock the door of justice for the lost identity of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Where are those facilities that the Indian government promised after the abrogation of article 370?” Omar Abdullah asked, underlining that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir were not receiving employment opportunities, and even the general quality of living was not up to the mark with no electricity, no water facility at home. “Even healthcare is not up to the mark as the hospitals are not equipped with proper medical facilities,” he added.
” The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been cheated. We don’t want to give false promises and dreams to our people to cling to,” Omar Abdullah concluded. In a landmark step, the Government of India on August 5, 2019, abrogated Article 370, along with Article 35 A.
‘Some were playing golf while others were shopping’
Article 370 had ensured that the laws passed by the Indian Parliament are not automatically applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, because of which the law and order situation was deteriorating with each passing day. On the other hand, Article 35A ensured that no Indian (from outside of Jammu & Kashmir) or foreign entity can own property in the state. The Central government abrogating the Articles two years ago had said that they were driving a wedge between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and those in the rest of India.
To prevent any untoward incident post abrogation of the Articles, the Central government had put prominent leaders like NCP’s Omar and Farooq Abdullah, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, J&K People’s conference’s Sajjad Gani Lone among 2,000 others in house arrest.
Reminiscing the same, Omar Abdullah said, “When we were kept under house arrest, some people were playing golfing while others went shopping in Delhi.”
Meanwhile, National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah on Saturday said that GOI’s claim that everything is normal in Jammu and Kashmir is contrary to what is happening on the ground.
Addressing a party Convention here at Baramulla Dak Bungalow, he busted the misinformation campaign on NC canvassing for polls. “Nowhere did I seek votes while I was on a tour of the Chenab region. Power is not our destiny. It is a means to achieve our goal. Our destination is beyond getting power. Time has proved that NC has gained strength whenever it was out of power,” he said adding, “We are not averse to the idea of being in power, if our goal requires us to have it, we will with the active support of the masses. However, it has never been the fulcrum point of our politics. Whenever the trumpet of election is blown, we will then come again to you with an election manifesto.”
According to a statement issued to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Party General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, PP Nasir Aslam Wani, party functionaries Javed Dar, Dr. Sajjad Shafi, Gh Hassan Rahi, Mohammad Yaqoob Wani, Reyaz Bedar, Tanvir Sadiq, Ahsan Pardesi, Salman Ali Sagar, Neelofar Masood, Muneer Bhat, Sameer Bhat were present on the occasion.
He said the reason behind his outreach to the general public and workers is to congratulate them on their victory in the DDC elections. “It is you who have deflated the claims of certain quarters that post abrogation NC was poised to get wiped out. You took it upon yourself to ensure the victory of NC candidates during the elections. Most of the party leaders were caged. Most of us were facing incarceration in jails, and various others were in house detention. Yet, by dint of your deep-rooted faith in your party, you came out and defeated those forces who wanted us obliterated,” he added.
Questioning the GoI claims on August 05 2019 decisions, Omar said that the ruling dispensation in New Delhi is proclaiming that everything is hunky-dory in Jammu and Kashmir, while the ground reality belies such flimsy claims.
“We were promised that Jammu and Kashmir were in for mega growth, employment, infrastructure build-up, and much more. I believed that the decisions must have given such projected developmental dividends to the people of Jammu at least. But the sullen looks of the people on the other side of Pir Panjal said it all. Not a single job has been given to our youth there, no power projects, roads, hospitals have come up. Hopes of our educated youngsters there have dashed like elsewhere in J-K. People are worried for the future of their kids,” he said.
He stated that the incumbent ruling dispensation has liquidated the Vajpayee legacy. “It was Vajpayee who opened up the trade and bus service across LoC but today we are being told that it was being misused. The reasons put forth by the government imply that Vajpayee was wrong then. The same Vajpayee, whom they conferred with the highest civilian award of the country. If he wasn’t wrong, then why is it that the biggest CBM’s initiated by him were discontinued?” he added.
“Among other promises, we were told that August 2019 measures will end separatism and militancy. Did it? The prevailing security situation on the roads of Jammu and Kashmir disprove such claims as well, he added.
On land and job rights, Omar said, “If the people of Ladakh are allowed to have exclusive rights over their land, jobs, scholarships, why can’t we in J-K enjoy the same privilege? Why is it that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been at a much lower pedestal?”
On tourism arrivals in Kashmir, Omar said, “As if the tourists all over India were waiting for the articles to be removed. Tourists have been coming to Kashmir in far greater numbers before Aug 05, 2019.”
Baramulla has been a bastion of our party, the foundations of our fortress in this historical district are solid and deep-rooted, he stated while exhorting functionaries. “We have to reach out to our workers who are waiting for us to reach out to them. The party leadership will ensure that our estranged workers, who are the heart and soul of our party, are back on the ground. It is for this reason we have entrusted the job to Dr. Sajad and Javed Dar, Dr. Sajad. Both are capable and dynamic,” he added.
Meanwhile, The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) — a coalition of six parties seeking the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status — is intact and is doing its job, National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah said on Saturday.
The NC leader’s assertion came amidst speculations that the alliance was breaking apart.
“The PAGD is still there. They met 10 days back. They are doing their job, but it is not like they will meet every day just to keep you happy. They are working at their own level,” he told reporters in Baramulla when asked if the alliance was still united.
There have been speculations that the alliance which includes the NC, PDP, CPI, and the CPI(M) was breaking apart due to differences among its constituents.
Addressing a party workers’ convention in the Jammu region recently, Abdullah had blamed the PDP for the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
At a public gathering at Chatroo in Inderwal, he said the BJP took advantage of “our weakness”.
“Following the Assembly elections of 2014 in Jammu and Kashmir, I extended a hand of friendship to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (PDP founder). I warned him against stitching an alliance with the BJP and told him it would prove to be extremely dangerous for the people of Kashmir,” said Abdullah, a former chief minister.
After his remarks, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had told his party leaders not to speak against any party which is a part of the PAGD so as not to destabilise the alliance.
Meanwhile, asked about a meeting of the Delimitation Commission scheduled for December 20 and whether the three NC MPs would participate in it, Abdullah said he had no knowledge of any such meeting.
“I did not know about this. I am hearing it for the first time from you. I will confirm whether it is like that and can only then talk to you about it,” he told reporters.
Earlier, addressing his party workers in Baramulla, Abdullah said neither the gun fell silent nor the separatist ideology disappeared in Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370 as promised by the BJP.
“It was said that the basic reason of the gun in Kashmir is Article 370 and when it is revoked, the guns will go away. But, have the guns gone silent? It has been two years, four months and six days since it was revoked, but only yesterday two brave policemen lost their lives in Bandipora. If Article 370 was the basic reason for the gun, then why is there mourning in the homes of the two policemen,” he said.
The NC vice president said encounters between security forces and militants were taking place every day in Kashmir and even in those places where “we had got rid of the gun”.
“New youths are picking up the gun today. Were we not told that the separatist ideology is also because of (Article) 370 and that this ideology will go away when (Article) 370 is revoked. I do not see it (separatist ideology) has ended,” he said.
The former chief minister said the revocation of the special status of the erstwhile state has in no way made the lives of the people better.
“Neither have our jobs come, or developmental activities taken place, or new power projects built, or health or education infrastructure made better, neither has the gun gone away or the separatist ideology ended. So…what was the aim of revoking Article 370?
“What was achieved by breaking the promises made to us and by cheating us? Why is there a step-motherly attitude with us? Why is the future of our children seen differently than those in Ladakh where there are land rights, job rights, or scholarships the same way as they were before (Article) 370 was revoked?” he said.
Criticising the Centre for stopping the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade, the NC leader said the bus service was started by BJP leader and former prime minister A B Vajpayee and asked if he (Vajpayee) was wrong.
“Was Vajpayee wrong when he started the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and people were allowed across? If he was wrong, then I would say it is the right decision to stop the bus service. I want to hear it from the BJP people that the leader whom they conferred a Bharat Ratna was wrong. I want to hear from the BJP leaders that by starting the bus service, Vajpayee had put the country in danger,” he said.
He said if Vajpayee was not wrong, then the decision to stop the bus service was wrong and then the BJP has “cheated” the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Then taking away this confidence-building measure was your mistake. Was the creation of infrastructure at Salamabad for cross-LoC trade wrong then? You say that some people used it for wrongdoings. Where don’t people make mistakes? Is there no evasion in the GST or income tax? Will you then stop the whole tax system?
“Power theft is there sometimes, does that mean the power supply to be cut for everyone. If an apple is rotten, you do not throw away the whole carton, you throw away that apple only,” he said.
Abdullah said if some people were misusing the trade, it does not mean that the whole trade is stopped.
“Your (Centre’s) job was to take action after the investigation against those who were misusing the trade. But, unfortunately, you hammer everything and then present it to the world in a false manner,” he said.