Aug 5 internationalised Kashmir as never before: Farooq Abdullah

File Pic: Habib Naqash/GK

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah on Monday said that by scrapping J&K’s special Constitutional status on August 5 last year, the Government of India had “dug its own grave” as this move has “internationalised Kashmir problem as never before.”

“The great thing that has happened after doing this (scrapping of special status), Kashmir has become an international problem. The Government of India is unable to get rid of it. After years, the UN Security Council met and debated Kashmir three times and will continue to debate it,” Dr Abdullah said.

In an interview with the Greater Kashmir, Dr Abdullah pointed out a statement of US Presidential candidate Joe Biden on restoration of the Constitutional position of J&K.

“He is contesting to become the US President and has come on record to say that restore the position of the people of J&K and remove the draconian onslaught on them. He has also said give them (Kashmiris) the freedom that others enjoy. There are also voices now such as China which has openly said restore Article 370,” Dr Abdullah said. “It is the same China whose Premier had wined and dined during his India visit but is now openly speaking for us,” Dr Abdullah said.

Calling the foreign envoys who visited the Valley earlier this year as “puppets”, Dr Abdullah said, “These people relishing Kashmiri cuisine, running around the Dal Lake and feeling pleased doesn’t change the situation in the Valley.”

The veteran leader said it was no surprise that European Union had distanced itself from the visiting envoys.

“Today High Commissioners and Ambassadors of this country are running around across the world trying to befool those governments but have not succeeded,” Dr Abdullah said. “The way influential and strong voices across the country have also opposed the decisions of the central government taken on August 5, 2019 is also quite heartening,” Dr Abdullah said.

Dr Abdullah said he was also thankful to senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad for his “powerful speech in the Rajya Sabha after the abrogation of Article 370” in which he had strongly opposed this move.

“Look at the way the perception created by a few about three families in Kashmir being corrupt was countered by leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad. Azad saheb compared J&K with Gujarat with help of statistics that our state is far better in various aspects than Gujarat and proved wrong the bundle of lies that Article 370 was a hurdle in the way of development,” Dr Abdullah said.

Dr Abdullah said by scrapping the special status of J&K, the BJP-led government at the centre has “carried the party agenda as the national agenda.”

“The tallest leader of the same party Atal Bihari Vajpayee who famously said ‘jamhuriyat, kashmiriyat, insaniyat’, the Iron Man of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were signatories of Article 370 and had conveyed to the PM Jawaharlal Nehru when he was in an overseas trip in US and got his approval….  But look at how we went and met him (PM Modi) on August 1 and then on August 5 they announced abrogation to Article 370, 35-A suddenly saying the state will progress and three families were corrupt and ate everything up,” Dr Abdullah said.

To a question on whether by making these allegations, the Government of India had disowned the Abdullah legacy and how this changed him as a person and politician, Dr Abdullah said, “ I think they have betrayed not just me but people of this state. Just ask them in this last one year have we become more Indians than what we were. Have they won the hearts of the people?”

The three time chief minister of J&K said, “I am the same Farooq Abdullah as before with one difference that I know who our friends are and who the enemies are.”

“Some people thought since we stood up for India always, whatever happened to us was right. They (the government) taught us a lesson and I am glad they did so. Let them now find people who can speak for them. Yes they will get enough people who can sell their soul, so let them use them,” Dr Abdullah said.

Responding to a question whether there was a possibility of a political alliance between political parties who are signatories of the Gupkar Declaration, Dr Abdullah said it was too early to talk about elections and whether NC will take part in any democratic electoral process as and when it begins.

He said NC vice-president Omar Abdullah’s comments on staying away from contesting elections while J&K remained a Union Territory was “purely his personal view”. Dr Abdullah said any decision on whether NC will be part of any poll process “will only be taken by the party high command.”

“What brought the political parties together despite differing on many things is to restore honour of people. It is not a question of the chair as many people say but this unity is for the restoration of honour of people of J&K and Ladakh. Signatories of the Gupkar Declaration will also hold a meeting soon,” Dr Abdullah said.

Dr Abdullah said his party will be mobilising people in Jammu “to make them aware of what we have lost in the form of the special status.” “It is not just a question of Kashmiri Muslims but this whole state. Also a question of Ladakhi Buddhists and people of Kargil, the Dogras and people of Jammu who have been most hard hit today. It is they who are more in danger than you and me here. They are going to lose everything and they have realised where they are heading,” Abdullah said.

“I don’t understand who was asking for trifurcation. It is not a question of three separate states as it is one state. Union Territories are converted into states but these people ruling in Delhi thought by converting this great state into a UT they will win a huge battle but they have lost the battle,” the NC president said.

Dr Abdullah said the fall-out of scrapping of special status “was not an individual problem but that of every resident of Jammu and Kashmir.” “The pain is there but one starts thinking what is the way forward and that way should not be the one which is destructive. Being united we will find a way forward. It should be the one where honour of people is restored without causing death and pain and rest is upto God,” Dr Abdullah said. “I have regrets about what was promised and what was done. I must be a fool if I don’t have regrets. We stood by the nation but that nation betrayed us. Shouldn’t I feel the pain. When Parliament begins, you keep a watch on what all will I speak,” Dr Abdullah said.

On continuous detention of Mehbooba Mufti for more than one year, Dr Abdullah said, “It is the biggest tragedy that a country that boasts of the biggest democracy of the world has let this happen.” The senior Abdullah agreed that internal differences between NC and PDP over the years have been many but added that “certain things have to be forgotten for a common purpose.”

To a question whether NC had united with PDP on the issue of J&K’s Constitutional position despite the fact that the latter had allied with BJP to form a government in J&K, Dr Abdullah said: “Those pains are there but we must forget that and work for a common goal, we must be united and forget differences,” Dr Abdullah said.

“I remember the day Mufti Muhammad Sayeed came to see me after my kidney transplant when I had just returned from abroad. I had a detailed discussion with him but I found him quite unhappy with what was done. Even she (Mehbooba Mufti) came and saw me when she was the Chief Minister but after that when she was dismissed things were not the same… I have no malice for I have to answer in front of Allah.”