This will rebound on you, you will have to answer for your misdeeds: Farooq Abdullah

Taking on the BJP, the former J&K CM has set the stage for a political battle, will he demand elections soon?


Jammu and Kashmir’s seniormost, and most outspoken political leader, former chief minister of the then state, Farooq Abdullah, spoke at a webinar organised by a Epilogue News Network on Sunday. His critique of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) revoking Article 370, the lack of promised development in J&K, and the demand for an enquiry into the Kashmiri Pandit exodus has been reported in some sections of the media.

However, a closer study of Farooq Abdullah’s speech during the webinar, now available in public domain has once again shown that his voice is perhaps the loudest political protest to have come from the valley at the moment. Dr. Abdullah, a Lok Sabha member, and president of the National Conference (NC), has laid bare the claims of  the union Government and said the abrogation of Article 370 was done arbitrarily, and has not brought development to the UT, nor has it curbed terrorism.

“It was passed in one day in Rajya Sabha and another day in Lok Sabha,” he said and added that the “narrative sold by the government” is that Kashmir would now become a part of India. “We were always part of India, holding the tricolour,” Abdullah said adding that many were “very excited about it. Thinking ‘My God, Kashmir will now become a part of us!’ I want to ask those people… were we not part of India…?” 

With that he lobbed the ball back in BJP’s court. His words were a lesson in history as he reminded viewers about why J&K’s special status was even granted. It was , “to guarantee that the Muslim majority state that had joined a Hindu majority India feels safe. This was done by the great Indian leader Sardar Patel,  and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was also a part of it. And this was conveyed to Jawaharlal Nehru who was on tour probably in England or America… to get his approval also…”

“We always said we are a part of the nation, only a special status was guaranteed to us…” Abdullah asserted that the removal of Article 370 was on BJP’s “agenda from the beginning. They projected it was that ‘development will be pouring from the top’, industrialists will come in… the whole map will change…?” The map did change, he said, as “Kashmir disappeared overnight.” He termed it unfortunate, and added that “ union territories become states, states don’t become union territories.”

He said Kashmir was doing better than Gujarat, to drive home the point that ‘development’ could not have been a reason to make it into a UT. He recalled a Rajya Sabha speech by Ghulam Nabi Azad in Rajya Sabha where he compared Gujarat,to Kashmir. He said Abdulla “proved to them that Kashmir has progressed much better than Gujarat… So where did we lack? We fought militants. My own party has lost top leaders to militants, my ministers died… because we held the Tricolour high.” 

He said Kashmiris are bitter today and asked if the BJP, “won the hearts of the people? Those of us who stand with the nation are looked down upon. The very man who said ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is in jail… arrested… for what? All others are still under house arrest. Are we enemies of India?” Even though he did not name the party directly at this point he said that a “wave of destruction,” had been started, “they are no winning people… I wonder to what direction they are taking this nation… what is to be the outcome of this nation?”

He also called out political claims that stone throwing, and political agitations have ceased in the Valley, “everybody was in the lockdup, forces were flown in… every street, every gully had soldiers standing with AK` 47s. They were not able to bulldoze us, thus there was no agitation. Wonderful of them to lie. As they are lying about Ladakh today, [that] the Chinese have withdrawn…”

Dr Abdulah hinted that Kashmir was still not considered a part of mainland India as it was still deprived of basis, “Where is that 4G which you enjoy in the rest of the country? Do our children not [want to]  benefit from it so they can study? Use a faster medium? While schools and colleges have closed? Are they not human beings? Are they not a part of the nation? You deny them this. You think the world does not know what is happening here? Just because you deny them 4 G? Every country in the world knows what is happening here.”

According to the veteran leader, media was being gagged in many ways in the Valley, too and ‘favourable’ media was being used to put out “false stories.” He warned that all this will come back to haunt the government in power eventually.  “One day  this will rebound on you when you will be sitting in the opposition and you will have to answer for your misdeeds.”

As he went on to lay what he has termed unfulfilled promises, he hoped he would at least be “alive to see” the tunnel project where the foundation stone was laid in the Congress rule, “and to this day not a stone is moved. Now they say a new contract has been given and the tunnel will be ready in 2026.”

However, one of the sharpest, and perhaps most likely to generate controversy, was when he spoke about terrorism in the Valley.  He alleged that the then BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and LK Advani as Home Minister had not heeded his advice when handling the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane in 1999, and released Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar. “We could not fight terrorism becuase you wanted to bring that damn plane [back]… could we not sacrifice for this nation 200 people? And you talk of the great India that you are going to build? You can never build India unless you sacrifice yourself. You want others to be sacrificed… while you enjoy glory… I told the then PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Advaniji was HM, I told him very clearly and categorically not to do it. You are destroying the nation forever. Did they listen? Are they listening now? I don’t think they learn… they are the wisest of wise… that nobody knows better than them…it is unfortunate.”

While demanding a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge, into the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley in the early 1990s, Abdullah said “an honest investigation [will] clear the air that the Muslims of Kashmir are responsible. All over the world Kashmiris have this image that it was the Kashmiri Muslims who threw them [Hindus] out.”  He said the probe was essential. “Were we not the same Mulisms who protected them when Pakistani raiders came in? We did not have guns. With lathis we stood, and kept a watch all night.”

The NC leader also said it was the then governor Jagmohan who was responsible for the exodus. “Ask the truth, it was Jagmohan who took them away… saying ‘I will be hard on the Muslims, repercussions may be on you, but I’ll bring you back in three months.’ Today, I think it is 29 years, and they have not come home. We have always said Kashmir is never going to be complete unless the Hindu brethren come back and live in peace with all of us.”

It was perhaps for the first time that he also spoke about the Prevention of Genocide and Atrocity Bill that is said to have been proposed by Kashmiri Pandits. He said he was open to it, “Why not? They are part of this land. They own this land as much as I do. We tried to bring  a bill to save their temples. They were under one authority called dharma trust. Who could not care… Who scuttled that bill?” 

It was almost a year ago that Dr. Farooq Abdullah was taken into custody on August 5, 2019 when the Center abrogated Article 370 revoking special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir. He was formally arrested under the provisions of the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) on September 15, 2019, and placed in detention for a period of three months that was extended for another three months first on December 13, 2019 and then again on March 11, 2020. The Jammu and Kashmir administration eventually issued a Revocation of the Detention Order.

However, it is only recently that he is being seen and heard in the state. With these recent, and so far strongest remarks, perhaps Dr Abdullah has set the stage for a political battle, and may even voice a demand for elections soon. August 5, 2020, will mark one year since the Center abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into union territories of Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir by passing the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill.



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