LOK SABHA ELECTIONS|We will protect Articles 370, 35-A till our last breath: Omar

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah Tuesday said that his party would protect the state’s “special status” guaranteed under Articles 370 and 35-A “till our last breath”.

Addressing an election rally at Naidkhai area in northern Bandipora district, Omar said Articles 370 and 35-A will be protected at any cost “till the time the National Conference flag remains in Jammu and Kashmir”.

“Why we are talking about protecting Articles 370 and 35-A is because it’s not only about the identity of Jammu and Kashmir, but about the future our youth and the future of our future generations.

Everyone is aware of poverty and sufferings of the people of Kashmir before 1947. Farmers in J&K would work in the fields day and night, but whatever they would produce, it would be taken away by the landlords because the farmers were not the owners of the land,” he said.

He said it was National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who enacted the land to the tiller Act and was able to do so because the state subject law was in place in the state.

“Such a law was not in place in any part of the country, except Jammu and Kashmir and that subject law was converted into Article 35-A. Had this law not been there, then the land to the tiller would not have been possible and people would not get the ownership rights of their land”.

Omar said in other states of India, reports of farmer suicides pour in every day and it’s because they don’t have the ownership rights of the land they use for cultivation purposes, “unlike Jammu and Kashmir where farmers have ownership rights because of Articles 370 and 35-A”.

“If the BJP tries to scrap these Articles, Jammu and Kashmir will be back to the position of pre-1947. We would be having the land but the ownership rights of that land would be with someone else.

That is why we say that Articles 370 and 35-A are not only about our identity but the future of our youth. It is our right and duty to safeguard these Articles and we will do it till our last breath”.

“A law barring outsiders to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir doesn’t exist only in Jammu and Kashmir. Being a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, I cannot buy land in Lakshadweep, Andaman, Manipur and Mizoram, but they (New Delhi and BJP) are worried about our law only because J&K is a Muslim-majority state and they cannot digest it. Is it because they want to change the demography of the state? BJP and RSS should remember that till the flag of National Conference is in Jammu and Kashmir, we won’t let you touch this law”.

Omar said if they are asked for any sacrifice to safeguard this law, they will be ready to offer it.

“People should be aware of forces who have camouflaged themselves under various (party) symbols. As and when the National Conference has been out of power, these forces who want to damage the Article 370 have been successful. From where did this GST law, which we have been opposing for long, come to J&K? We had told them (PDP) not to enforce GST in the state because we will have to beg before the Centre for everything after this law is implemented in the state. Today we have to bear the brunt of GST and today these forces are talking about protecting Article 370.”

“Mehbooba Mufti, the PDP chief, could not utter a word when Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was admitted at the AIIMS in New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t even visit him at the hospital to ask for his well-being. Then they were friends. When she could not do anything for her father, what can she do for the State?”

“Mehbooba Mufti herself said that she joined hands with the BJP only to save her party from falling apart, and not to save the State. Yesterday, our biggest religious leader of the state, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, was interrogated by the National Investigation Agency for about nine hours and it is because of Mehbooba Mufti. Today, he (Mirwaiz) had to present himself before the NIA again and Mehbooba is accusing me about all this. May I ask her in which case is Mirwaiz being questioned? It is the case of 2017 when she was the chief minister”.

“They (PDP) also implemented SARFAESI Act and NFSA in our state. What was left of our autonomy was also surrendered by PDP for the lust of power,” Omar said, according to a National Conference statement issued here.

Omar said that he was surprised to know that Prime Minister Modi has said that the Kashmir problem is only about two-and-a-half districts and except these two-and-a-half districts everything is fine in the state.

“May I ask the PM: if Kashmir problem is only about these districts, then why they have to close the national highway from Udhampur to Uri (Baramulla). Are there only two-and-a-half districts from Udhampur to Uri?”

“If the problem is confined to just two districts, why doesn’t the central government revoke AFSPA then?” he said.

Meanwhile, Omar Tuesday hoped that first-time voters in this Lok Sabha election ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi why the Balakot air strike became necessary.

“I hope the first-time voters ask PM Modi why Balakote became necessary in the first place. Why did the Pulwama attack succeed? On whose watch have attacks in Uri, Pathankote, Sunjwan (Jammu), Nagrota &and Pulwama happened? Don’t reward Balakote, punish Pulwama! (sic)” Abdullah tweeted.

He was reacting to the prime minister’s remarks at an election rally in Latur in Maharashtra, asking first-time voters to dedicate their vote to those who carried out the air strike in Balakot.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, in an apparent reference to the Election Commission barring electioneering by invoking the defence forces, took a sarcastic swipe at the prime minister.

“Repeat after me. MCC is Modi Code of Conduct,” she tweeted.