Jammu: Former Chief Minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday demanded full restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, before holding assembly elections in the Union Territory.
Omar was speaking to media, following a nearly four-hour long meeting, chaired by Member Parliament and NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah, with the senior party leaders at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhawan here.
Responding to questions regarding assembly polls in J&K, Omar said, “Whenever the Election Commission wants to hold elections, they should do it, but our demand is for restoration of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.”
He further said, “We had prepared for assembly elections in 2019 because the erstwhile assembly was dissolved. If and when they want, they should hold polls. But our issue is that they should restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir before holding elections.”
“As far as rest of the issues are concerned, we will fight them in Supreme Court whether it is Art 370 or whatever has happened on August 5, 2019,” he said.
“The Prime Minister and Union Home Minister had made a commitment in the parliament that statehood would be restored. Then why it should be delayed,” Omar asked.
UNEMPLOYMENT ON RISE AFTER AUGUST 5, 2019; JAMMU TRADERS WORST SUFFERERS
To a question on increasing unemployment in J&K, Omar reacted sharply as he asked, “Then tell me what the purpose of August 5, 2019 was. The people of Jammu and Kashmir were told that Art 370 was an obstacle and with its abrogation, unemployment would end. But you have questioned that unemployment is increasing day by day. Then, tell me where is investment and employment? Even you have snatched the earnings of those who were earning good.”
He maintained that Jammu city traders would be hit hard by the curtailment of Darbar move.
“We should accept that financially Kashmir’s traders would not get benefit from Darbar move as much as it was beneficial for the traders of Jammu,” NC vice president said adding that it was the direct effect of the August 5, 2019 decision.
“I’m forced to question as to who has been benefited from the decision of August 5, 2019. Unemployment has not reduced nor the corruption has stopped and people are still complaining about development,” he said.
He further said, “You (Government of India) held DDC elections. However, no DDC chairman is satisfied with the work as nothing has happened. Then, tell us what you have achieved with your decision on August 5, 2019.”
Reacting to a question on Sajad Lone of Peoples Conference, Omar remarked, “Sajad Lone has no right to question PAGD. The way he left PAGD with an excuse and his party people contested against PAGD candidates, I do not think that they have any right to question PAGD.”
He said, “We had a nearly four-hour long meeting with the leaders from all the areas of Jammu province and none of my colleagues put question marks on PAGD. No one referred to PAGD during our meeting. We listen to all the leaders of Jammu region.”
CLARIFY STAND ON TALIBAN
“They (Government of India and Taliban) are engaged in Qatar. Either Taliban is a terror organisation or not, please clarify to us how you see them. If not, will you move to the United Nations to have de-listed it as a terror organisation because you (Government of India) are presiding over the UN Security Council,” the former Chief Minister said.
He said, “If it is a terror organisation then how would you distinguish between Taliban and other terror groups. Let their bank accounts start functioning and let’s not treat them differently. But you cannot have different yardsticks. If they are a terror organisation then why are you talking to them and if they are not, why are you not recognizing their government? Make up your mind.”
On Afghanistan, he said that the Government of India should be asked questions on the situation whether it would have an impact on J&K or not.
“I have no such information on the basis of which I can say that the Afghanistan situation will have an impact on J&K or not. I will not make any statement. Whatever has happened in Afghanistan is before us. Whether it will impact or not, this answer lies with the Government of India, not with me,” he said.
Omar said, “I see no reason to oppose a monetization scheme (of Government of India) that is looking to monetize an asset that otherwise does not give a suitable return.”
He further added, “I support any scheme that will allow the government to raise revenue without putting burden on everyday people.”
Earlier while addressing the party leaders’ meeting also, NC vice president had reiterated the demand for full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir before holding elections to the Legislative Assembly.
“This is a promise held out by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, which should be kept,” Omar said.
He said that the National Conference would continue to fight for full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and tagging the issue with ‘appropriate time’ was questionable, as the people would have to decide about it.
“The fact is that the people overwhelmingly want, rising above political affiliations, the status of Jammu and Kashmir as state back,” Omar said, adding that the statehood should not have been snatched in the first instance. He said the measure annoyed the people to such an extent that even those in Ladakh too wanted restoration of permanent residence procedure as per the norms prevalent before August 2019.
The Vice President said that the National Conference firmly believed in the Constitution and the supremacy of the Supreme Court, which was seized of the issue regarding Article 370 and Article 35A.
“We will not backtrack from our stand on these vital issues,” he said, adding that the National Conference had all along stood for democracy and worked towards strengthening the nation.
Dwelling upon the working of the party, Omar called upon the cadre to reach out to the people in a big way. He said strengthening of the National Conference at the grass roots level was imperative for meeting the challenges faced in Jammu and Kashmir.
The vice president said that the National Conference reflected the urges and aspirations of all the segments of the people in all the regions and sub-regions.
“We have to collectively work towards realizing the urges of the people, which are distinct,” he said, hoping that the cadre would rededicate itself in revitalizing the party at all the levels.