Greatly alarmed by targeted civilian killings: Omar Abdullah

Greatly alarmed by targeted civilian killings: Omar Abdullah
He said there had been 28 civilian killings so far this year and 21 of those were Muslims.File/ GK

Srinagar: Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah has said that the killings of civilians belie government claims of ‘normalcy’.

In an interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Abdullah said he was “very greatly alarmed” by the targeted killing of seven civilians in Kashmir over the past 10 days.

However, he said that he does not agree with the view that the targeted civilian killings suggest another attempt to ethnically cleanse Kashmir.

He said there had been 28 civilian killings so far this year and 21 of those were Muslims.

However, Abdullah said that the targeted killing of minority civilians suggests that the government either ignored intelligence inputs, which for several months had suggested such killings could happen, or, failed to act adequately.

Abdullah said that he was worried about reports that Pandits and Sikhs were leaving Kashmir or many had already left and that this could presage “the dark days of the 1990s”.

He said that the Kashmiri people did not want Pandits and Sikhs to depart and he and his party were determined to make every effort to ensure they stay on and feel welcome.

However, Abdullah denied claims that human rights activists, who express concern when Muslims were killed, were silent this time.

“People who are silent for the last 10 days are Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah,” he said.

Abdullah said that the targeted killings of civilians over the past 10 days completely gives the lie to claims by the government, both in Delhi and Srinagar, which had been endorsed by several Army Generals, that the situation in Kashmir was at or near normal.

“When civilians like Makhan Lal Bindroo, the chemist, who remained in Srinagar right through the dark days of the 1990s, are killed for no apparent reason, it shows the situation can’t be normal,” he said. “The killings happened in the centre of the city, making it clear that the situation is not normal.”

Abdullah was critical of the government’s response of arresting “up to 700” people and called this “a knee-jerk reaction”.

He said that this made a “mockery” of the government’s response and was simply to show the Kashmiri Pandit community and the Sikh community that the government was concerned and responding.

Abdullah said this could embitter and alienate Kashmiris who could believe innocents had been picked up simply as showpiece arrests.

About the resignations of Devender Singh Rana and Surjit Singh Slathia from the NC, Abdullah said this had personally upset and shaken him as he had repeatedly defended Rana against other party colleagues, who were claiming for weeks that he would leave the party.

“More than a setback for my party, this is a personal loss for me. Both men were close to me. The association with Rana goes back two decades and more,” he said.

Related Stories

No stories found.