It has been almost a year since J&K’s special status was revoked. “Truth be told, the BJP pushing this wasn’t a complete surprise — it was part of its poll agenda for decades. What came as a shock was the humiliation heaped on the state by downgrading it and splitting it into two Union Territories,” writes Omar Abdullah in his opinion piece in The Indian Express, his first after months of house arrest.
J&K’s special status was “an important, perhaps even indispensable, part of the state’s accession to the Union,” writes Abdullah. “The special constitutional status enjoyed by J&K was not a favour done to the state. It formed the basis of the state’s accession to India”.
To this day, he says, he fails to understand the need for this move, “except to punish and humiliate” the people of the state.
Abdullah goes on to explain why many reasons to justify the complete dilution of Article 370 did not stand the test of basic scrutiny in his view.
For instance, “if the reason for carving out a separate Union Territory for Ladakh was the public demand among the Buddhist population of the area, then the demand for a separate state for the people of Jammu is a much older demand,” he states.
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“If the demand was conceded on religious grounds, then it ignored the fact that Leh and Kargil districts, which together make up the Union Territory of Ladakh, are Muslim majority and the people of Kargil are vehemently opposed to the idea of being separated from J&K,” says Abdullah.
“We, in the J&K National Conference, do not agree with what has been done to J&K nor do we accept what has been done”.
“As for me, I am very clear that while J&K remains a Union Territory I will not be contesting any Assembly elections. Having been a member of the most empowered Assembly in the land and that, too, as the leader of that Assembly for six years, I simply cannot and will not be a member of a House that has been disempowered the way ours has,” he concludes.
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