By calling us anti-national, do you want us to quit mainstream? Omar asks Centre

Omar Abdullah while addressing the party workers at Nawa-e-Subah in Srinagar on Thursday. Photo: Aman Farooq/ GK

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday asked the central government to clear its stand on “what it expects from mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir” and whether the Government of India wanted these parties to quit politics after they struggled for the last 30 years.

“When we raise our voice for our identity and our future, you call us anti-national. Does the Centre really want us to leave the mainstream for which we struggled for 30 years? Why does it say that to seek our rights as per the constitution is illegal?” Omar said in his maiden address to party workers in over one year’s time at NC headquarters Nawa-e-Subha complex. The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister also said the Centre had “not left any stone unturned” to divide the mainstream parties in J&K, who are now united for restoration of Article 370.

“New Delhi didn’t leave any stone unturned to weaken and divide us. I wish the good sense of working unitedly that has prevailed now, would have happened earlier. In that case, we wouldn’t have had to see this day today (abrogation of Article 370),” Abdullah said.

Abdullah took a dig at the government for the recently issued land laws for Jammu and Kashmir calling them “discriminatory”. “The Centre time and again tried that our voices are weakened and the result is that we got divided and their conspiracy became success,” Omar said. “They erased our identity but even today those in Delhi saying that it (abrogation of Article 370) is for our betterment are not treating us fairly. Even today a citizen of this country cannot purchase land in several states such as Himachal and North East and many other states but what is the fault of people of J&K that an outright permission was granted to everyone to purchase land here,” Abdullah said.

Abdullah said demand for restoration of Article 370 was well within the Constitution of India and nothing unusual which the J&K parties were demanding.

“What was taken away from us was very much a part of the Constitution of this country. Had special status not been given to J&K, who knows what story would have unfolded in 1947,” Abdullah said. “The land laws that were ripped apart two days back were actually started by the late Maharaja of J&K, the same Maharaja in front of whose statue BJP recently held a party program in Jammu,” Abdullah said.

Stating that New Delhi was freely indulging in a dialogue with leaders from Nagaland who have a clear-cut anti-India stand, Abdullah said the Centre was “adopting a completely different yardstick in Kashmir.” “When people here raise a voice to save their land and identity, they are called as anti-national and blamed for revolting against the country,” Abdullah said. “The flag (NC party flag) under which we are holding this programme today … had we to revolt our workers like Maqbool Sherwani in 1947 who laid down his life wouldn’t have done so,” Abdullah said. “There are so many of our workers and leaders who lost their lives to grenades and bullets because we wanted to achieve something peacefully but today we are being pushed to the wall and the same people (GoI) is telling us that our path was wrong,” Abdullah said adding that all the policies and laws formulated by NC during its years of power had empowered the land owner and farmers.

Without naming any party, Abdullah said “government was clearly discriminatory in its approach by allowing a party (Peoples Democratic Party) to stage a protest in Jammu on Wednesday and disallow a similar protest of the party in Srinagar on Thursday.”

Calling the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 as a “political earthquake”, Abdullah said it had changed the way any party such as NC will now approach politics.

“I don’t know what political moves we would take and how politics will unfold in J&K but one thing is clear we are here for a long struggle. It is not the time to keep staring at the chief minister’s chair or the power. It’s time to realise that common people are wondering how will these leaders come to our rescue,” Abdullah said. “Just more than a year back we were preparing for Parliamentary and assembly polls but look at how things have changed. It is no less than a political earthquake. Whatever a human being thinks and plans..if it is not for Almighty to approve it never gets fulfilled,” Abdullah said.

Omar didn’t lose the opportunity to take a dig at the Congress, as the party had recently been accused of backtracking from the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, after despite being one of  its signatories, it had not taken part in two meetings of the alliance. “Last year all political parties were on a separate path. It is a different question that Congress is still on a different path. But we all who used to speak against each other have got united due to the conspiracy of the Centre,” Abdullah said.