National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the Governor Satya Pal Malik assured his party on Saturday that no moves were being planned to tinker with the State’s special position. But the former chief minister insisted that the Governor does not have a final word on J&K and instead the Government of India should assure people of the State by making a statement in the Parliament.
Amid growing uncertainty in Kashmir, following reports that a major decision was in offing on J&K, Omar led a delegation of senior party members to Raj Bhavan to “find out what was happening in the state”.
Briefing the media later, Omar said in his meeting with the Governor he told him about rumors surrounding Article 35A, Article 370, delimitation of J&K Assembly segments and rumors about trifurcation of the State.
“The Governor assured us that, in all these cases, there was no movement being made,” Omar said.
The Omar-led delegation’s meeting with the Governor comes a day after State administration issued an advisory asking AmarnathYatris and tourists to cut short their stay in Kashmir and return as soon as possible.
“Since yesterday’s order the situation has deteriorated and it has created a lot of panic…we met the Governor to know what was happening since we are not getting right answer from anywhere,” said Omar.
“When we try to know from officer what is happening, they say they don’t know anything but assert ‘something’ is going to happen. One officer said this something will happen tomorrow, another said it will happen day after tomorrow and another said that it will happen in next five days,” Omar said.
He said there was a need for Government of India to make a statement on Kashmir in Parliament. “We want a statement from government of India in the Parliament that people of Kashmir need not to worry,” said Omar.
“They (the Centre) should recognize that it is not in their interest to have restive Jammu and Kashmir, it is not in their interests to have unsettled Jammu and Kashmir and it is not in their interest to have tense Kashmir, and therefore anything that Government of India can say to settle the tension is in their interest as much as it is in ours,” said Omar.
He said his party’s MPs had already raised the issue in LokSabha last time through a calling attention notice. “I would request them to give another notice on Monday to raise this issue again. We will try to seek an answer from the government. We want that on Monday the Centre also makes a statement in the Parliament to explain what was the need for issuing the order for vacating pilgrims and tourists,” said Omar.
To a question about Farooq Abdullah-led delegation’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Omar said the PM also talked in the context of the Governor’s statement in which he (the Governor) has assured there will be no tinkering with Article 35A.
“The PM talked in this context. The PM told us that they are preparing for the elections and he wants elections in the State. He was satisfied that the situation in Kashmir was better this year compared to previous years,” Omar said.
The NC leader said they had left the meeting with the PM satisfied. “But I wasn’t expecting such an order will be issued within 24 hours (asking Yatris and tourists to leave), because we didn’t get any indication from the Prime Minister that there was any threat that pilgrims and tourists would need to be evacuated. That’s why the assurance we got from the PM on Article 35A and elections was all good but then this order came. That is why we want to hear from Government of India about Kashmir in the Parliament,” Omar said.
Referring to J&K’s special status, Omar went on to say that the promises which were made with people of the State at the time of accession were not time-bound. “The promises made to this State and its people have to be kept till eternity. We were not told to accede on certain conditions and then after 70 years, these conditions will be removed,” Omar said.
Asked if he was satisfied with assurances given by the Governor on state’s special status, Omar said the Governor was not the final word on J&K and instead the final word on J&K was the government of India.
“Therefore more than what the Governor tells us publicly, I definitely would like to hear from the government of India publicly that there is nothing that people have to worry about,” Omar said.
Later in the day Raj Bhavan issued a statement saying that the Governor told the National Conference delegation that the state has “no knowledge of any changes to Constitutional provisions”.
The statement said that Omar-led delegation apprised the Governor about the obtaining situation in Kashmir, adding the NC delegation also mentioned about panic buying by people.
The Governor informed the delegation that the security situation has developed in a manner which required immediate action, adding there were “credible inputs” available to security agencies about militant planning an attack on AmarnathYatra. “…the seriousness of the threat required immediate action. It is in this context that the government had issued an advisory asking Yatris and tourists to return as soon as possible. These are a vulnerable group of people who do not know the area and are extremely vulnerable to a terrorist or a fidayeen attack. It is the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens…” the statement said.
“The Governor Malik also said the State has no knowledge of any changes to constitutional provisions. Therefore, no panic should be created by unnecessarily linking this security matter with all kinds of other issues. A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic. The Home Secretary and the Divisional Commissioner have clarified this yesterday,” the statement said.