Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Sunday toughened his party’s stance on special status for the state and said that the Constitution guarantees autonomy to J&K, and if talking about that is anti-national, they are proud to wear this badge. Omar said J&K had acceded to India and not merged with it, and it is wrong to compare it with any other Indian state.
“When there was accession (of J&K with India), the Centre was responsible for three things: currency, defence and foreign affairs. This is mentioned in the Constitution, and when we say it should be restored, you say they are anti-national,” Omar said. “A senior minister said leave alone azaadi, if somebody talks of autonomy, he is an anti-national,” Omar said, addressing a delegate session of the NC in Srinagar, “We don’t have to get autonomy from Pakistan; we don’t have to get it from Russia or Britain. We have to get it from the Indian Constitution, the Constitution in which it is already mentioned.
“I am sorry, (Arun) Jaitley-sahib, but if talking of something within the Constitution, to get something from the Constitution, is anti-national, we will wear this badge of anti-national proudly. We have no objection to it”. Omar was referring to Union Finance Minister Jaitley’s remarks that Chidambaram’s position on autonomy for J&K is “contrary to India’s national interest”.
The delegate session re-elected Farooq Abdullah as the party president and passed a resolution seeking restoration of autonomy to the state. Omar said J&K is unlike any other Indian state. “Why are you, time and again, comparing Jammu and Kashmir with Gujarat, Haryana and Tamil Nadu,” he asked. “We have our own identity, we have preserved our identity. We have our own Constitution, we have our own flag. You can’t compare us with other states.”
Omar also admitted making mistakes in the past: “…Sometime, because of our own mistakes, we deviate from our path. This is human tendency. No one among us is an angel — we are humans, and humans do make mistakes…. I believe we have learnt to a large extent from our mistakes.” Farooq Abdullah echoed Omar’s words on autonomy: “We had joined you (India) with love but you didn’t understand our love. You snatched (that) very thing from us and then you are asking why you don’t raise slogans in our favour…. If you have to win their hearts, you have to give them autonomy”.