We are united against everything that they have done: Farooq Abdullah 

National Conference president sets the tone for revival of debate on reversing decision scrapping Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution

Farooq Abdullah

In his 80s, Farooq Abdullah, still  hailed by his followers as Jammu and Kashmir’s most veteran leader, by people across party lines. The National Conference president who has held the post of the then state’s Chief Minister five-times, had been missing from the (now) Union Territory’s political scene after he was detained last year, under the PSA (Public Safety Act),  he was released from detention in March 2020, but had not been in the news since then.

He broke his ‘sabbatical’ as it were, from public life when he called the domicile policy for J&K as “illegal and unconstitutional” and virtually restarted the political debate that had quietened down considerably. According to a report in Greater Kashmir, Abdullah spoke at Larim-Ganjipora village of Qaimoo Kulgam where he had come to offer condolence to former NC legislator Home Shalibugh, Abdul Majid Bhat Larmi, whose mother had passed away.



Abdullah’s return to public life, after 10 months, and his statement, though Kashmir-centric, is also a message to the Union Government that the NC may be gearing up to take the issue up in a big way, in the days to come. According to a report in the Tribune, Abdullah has not been politically active in public after 10 months, and in the past two days, has made statements that can be seen as a ‘comeback’ in the now almost silent political space in J&K at the moment.

Abdullah was detained on August 5, the day the special status of the erstwhile state was quashed, recalls the news report, stating that his focus may now be on seeking a reversal of the decision scrapping Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. He has sent a loud message to the Union Government calling the domicile law “unconstitutional” and saying it was “not acceptable” to him. A report in Greater Kashmir quotes Abdullah as saying, “The law is illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional. So why do you think I am going to accept something which is unconstitutional?” 

“When we are saying that we are united against everything that they have done, which is illegal, unconstitutional, how do you think am I going to accept what is unconstitutional,” Abdullah is quoted in another news report.

Under this domicile law, non-permanent residents with proof of having lived for at least 15 years in J-K can get domicile certificates. They can then apply for government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir, and buy land. Before Article 370 and Article 35A was scrapped only state subjects were allowed to do this.

Farooq Abdullah has timed his ‘return’ to politics well, and made these remarks at the moment when the Union Territory administration has begun publicising the issuance of issuing domicile certificates to the non-Kashmiris, under the new domicile laws notified after the abrogation of J&K’s special status.



As reported by The Hindu, and also publicised by the administration on social media; the first non-local officer to be issued a domicile certificate was Navin Kumar Choudhary, an IAS officer who hails from Bihar. He has been posted J&K for 26 years, and is the principal secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture Production Department, and was given a domicile certificate in the Bahu area of Jammu. This move had been critiqued by Abdullah’s son, the NC’s vice-president Omar Abdullah who said: “All our misgivings about the new domicile rules in Jammu and Kashmir are coming to the fore. The NC opposed the changes because we could see a nefarious design behind the changes. The people on both sides of the Pir Panjal mountains will be the sufferers of these domicile rules.”



It was also criticised by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, who is quoted by the news report as saying, “As the agenda unfolds, it becomes clear that along with the intended demographic change, the target is the jobs, natural resources, cultural identity and everything that the people of Kashmir had tried to save by acceding to India with firm constitutional guarantees.”

Farooq Abdullah has not made a statement on it till now. The veteran politician has also made a firm observation on the developing India-China situation and said, “Talks are the only solution, not war with China or Pakistan”. It is clear that in his comeback speeches, Abdullah is bringing Kashmir politics back into the national debate once again. In his inimitable style by not commenting, Abdullah has made the biggest comment on the issue of the Centre’s J&K policy actions. “Why should I comment on something that is unconstitutional and illegal,” the Tribune quotes him as telling reporters in Suth Kashmir on Sunday. He added “Everything that they (Delhi) have done since August 5 last year is unconstitutional and illegal, and we are for the restoration of the pre-August 5 status.”

Strong words from a senior politician who was once in close alliance with the governments at the Centre. The first time it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led-National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999, when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appointed Abdullah’s son Omar as a Union Minister of State in his Cabinet. The second was in May 2009 when he won a Lok Sabha seat from Srinagar and joined the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, where he was appointed Cabinet Minister of New and Renewable Energy. He has also been elected to the Rajya Sabha for two terms. 

He has now called his former allies as ‘they’, reaffirming once again  that his focus and commitments remain sharply on Kashmir and its people. 



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