The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti – who are freed from the long detention, are back in action again.
Embolden by the support he is receiving from Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba and others, Farooq Abdullah has raised a serious controversy by making a “unconstitutional” remark of saying that Kashmiris would rather have Chinese rule them. He said he and others would work to reinstate the Article 370, which was revoked by the Center on August 5, 2019.
Out from the long periods of detention, now the three leaders are planning to put up a joint front along with other like-minded political parties and leaders against the Center’s “onslaught,” which they consider to be the result of abrogating the Article 370 that otherwise gave special status to the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir. The three behave as if they are not citizens of the country, and the state they have ruled for several years has not been a part of India. They have forgotten that they, though out of the CMO, continue to enjoy all the perks and facilities provided by the government.
These trouble-mongering leaders are the bane of Kashmir, which is slowly returning to normalcy after more than three decades of intense trouble engineered by local separatists with the support and connivance of external elements including terrorists exported by Pakistan. Hundreds of innocent citizens and security personnel have been brutally killed in the mindless aggressive fights unleashed on the people.
Kashmir once was recognized as the heaven on the earth. But it lost its glory and pride as a beautiful tourist center. The special status it “enjoyed” under the Article 370 has not done any good, but gave an opportunity to the trouble mongers to encourage separatist tendencies by discouraging the participation of the mainstream investors to promote and work for the development of the state. The lone flourishing tourist industry was destroyed by the extremist and terrorist elements.
To bring normalcy in Kashmir that would bring peace and prosperity to people there, the Central Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had rightfully thought and acted accordingly by abrogating the Article 370 in August last year much against the will and pleasure of some so-called leaders. As a preventive measure, the Center has put these three former Chief Minsters and many other pseudo leaders, under detention. The Center has been making all-out efforts to improve the lives of the people, and fight against separatist tendencies and terrorist elements.
The Abdullahs, who represent the National Conference (NC), have been freed from detention in March, have now been joined by Mehbooba Mufti of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who was freed on October 13. The father-son duo met Mehbooba Mufti at her official residence in Srinagar on October 14 to discuss with her their plans for “broadening” the alliance – a foundation – which would put “Gupkar Declaration” in action. The “Gupkar Declaration” has been a pledge of main parties of Kashmir, which they took at a meeting held at the residence of Farooq Abdullah located on Gupkar Road in Srinagar on August 4, last year. In that meeting, the parties unanimously declared that they would be united in their resolve to protect and defend identity, autonomy and special status of J&K against all “attacks and onslaughts.”
In September, the leaders of National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, Peoples Conference, Awami National Conference, CPI(M) and Congress issued a joint statement saying that they would “wholly bound by the ‘Gupkar Declaration’ and unwaveringly adhere to it.” In anticipation of the release of Mehbooba Mufti from detention, Farooq Abdullah in an interview on September 23 to a television commentator said: “Today Kashmiris do not feel Indian and do not want to be Indians. They are slaves. They would rather have the Chinese rule them.”
With regard to the Center’s abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah said that every Kashmiri believed the new domicile laws were intended to create a Hindu majority. The gap between Kashmiris and the rest of the country was wider than ever before and it was growing, he added. Farooq Abdullah also accused Narendra Modi of “deliberately deceiving” him and keeping him in the dark about the Center’s plan to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcating J&K. The NC leader said that the Prime Minister deliberately went off his way to give him the impression that the massive increase in troops was for security purposes.
Farooq Abdullah said that the Government of India viewed him as a “traitor” and arrested him. On the other hand Kashmiris saw him as a servant of India and said things like those “serve Abdullah Right” and taunted him for having said “Bharat Mata Ki Jai.” This left him deeply shaken and upset him.
The Abdullahs and Mehbooba Mufti together headed J&K as the Chief Ministers for more than 29 years in different intervals of periods since the princely state was accessed to India by a Hindu King Hari Singh in 1947. But these leaders have been only a witness to rebellion growing, separatist elements indulging in destruction, and terrorist forces systematically terrorizing people and killing them. These Chief Ministers have only reveled on their glory enjoying their political positions and perks, while the demography of the state was systematically altered and the Hindus and Hindu Pundits were persecuted and purged out of Kashmir.
If some Kashmiris look at Farooq Abdullah and his ilk as “traitors,” there is some truth in it. Now speaking on behalf of separatists, rebels and ill-informed people, Farooq Abdullah says that Kashmiris would be better off under the rule of Chinese.
These leaders should have worked for the integration of the local population into the mainstream India. These leaders have failed to retain and help progress of the culture, and thus failed to work for the all-round development of J&K. Instead, these leaders have played into the hands of separatist and terrorist elements, thus failing to unify the people, thereby neglecting the development of the state. It is unfortunate that some of these leaders and local people show signs of extra-territorial integrity.
Reacting to the sentiments expressed by Farooq Abdullah, Dr. Karan Singh, the son of Maharaja Hari Singh who signed the instrument of accession of Princely State of Kashmir to India, said Farooq Abdullah’s remarks on restoring the special status of Jammu and Kashmir were “totally unacceptable” and could provoke “unrealistic expectations” among the people of Kashmir. “My old friend Farooq Abdullah has made an astounding statement to the effect that Article 370 will be restored with China’s support,” Singh said. “I can understand his rage and frustration at recent events, including the fact that he was under house arrest for a year, an emotion that large sections in the Kashmir Valley share. However, his recent articulation is totally unacceptable. It will tend to, once again, provoke totally unrealistic expectations among the people of Kashmir,” Dr. Karan Singh said in a statement.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra came down heavily on Farooq Abdullah and said his statements were seditious and anti-national. Sambit Patra said that the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister had become the “hero of China.” Sambit Patra added: “He (Farooq Abdullah) is a former Chief Minister and sitting MP and yet in an interview he said that the Article 370 that has been abrogated in Parliament should be reinstalled with the help of China. A sitting MP is using such words for the country. He thinks that China’s aggression is because that the Article 370 has been nullified. He categorically states that since the Indian Parliament abrogated the Article 370, China is disturbed and that is why China’s aggression is justified. He seems to justify the expansionist tendencies of China.”
Meanwhile, the National Conference has denied that Farooq Abdullah had said that the Article 370 would be restored with “China’s support.” It asserted that he never justified China’s expansionism or its aggression during his interview to a TV channel.
– Contributed by Mr. J.V. Laskshmana Rao, a former National News Coordinator of Express News Service, New Delhi, and former Chief Editor of US-based India Tribune. He frequently travels between India and the US.
Picture Credits: Twitter/@OmarAbdullah