A day before their scheduled meeting in Jammu, the National Conference and PDP, the main constituents of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, on Friday declared a fight for restoration of Article 370 in J&K, with Lok Sabha MP and NC chief Farooq Abdullah telling party workers that he will “not sleep until I get back for the people their rights’’.
“I am 85, but I am still young. I will not sleep until I get back for the people their rights. And once that happens, I will go,’’ Farooq told a massive gathering of party workers at Sher-i-Kashmir Bhawan in Jammu, seen as a BJP stronghold.
“I do not pelt stones, but we will fight for our identity,’’ he said. “We have fought, we will fight, and we will win.”
Farooq, who sported a saffron turban, accused the BJP of having mixed up the party agenda with the country’s agenda. “Trump (US President Donald Trump) is going; you (BJP) will also go…India is too big; (much bigger) than your party.”
Taking on critics who accused him of supporting Pakistan and China, the former CM asked, “Where were you when Farooq Abdullah was speaking at Geneva (for India),” and pointed out that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also with him at the time. “Had we been so (pro-Pakistan), no one would have stopped us in 1947,” he added.
Stating that NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had told the people that “our path is to Mahatma Gandhi’s India”, Farooq said, “We had warriors who fought with the raiders in 1947 (in Kashmir).”
This was a reference to Maqbool Sherwani and many others who misled Pakistani raiders and delayed their advance towards Srinagar until Indian troops landed there.
He asked BJP and other opponents of Article 370 to burn as many effigies of Farooq Abdullah as they want, but “I am not afraid of that”.
Stating that it was “Farooq Abdullah who always stood by India”, he said, in apparent reference to the start of the political process in the then militancy-infested Kashmir during the mid-1990s, “Even when I was abroad, people started looking for me to save Jammu and Kashmir, as they knew that the National Conference can save it. No one was searching for the BJP.”
Asking people to be wary of lies, Farooq Abdullah said, “They said Pakistanis will come and grab your land. Show me who came.’
NC vice-president Omar Abdullah accused the BJP of cheating the people of Jammu, too, by taking away the safeguards earlier available to them with respect to jobs and land. “By doing so, they have taken revenge on the people for not helping them win 45 seats in 2014 Assembly polls,’’ Omar said.
He said, “Today even our land is not secure. We always said that the road to Kashmir passes through Jammu. Whosoever comes to buy land here will first come to Jammu.”
Pointing out that Haryana has reserved 75 per cent jobs for locals, Omar said, “When we ask for that, we are called anti-nationals. You won’t let us buy land in Himachal Pradesh, (or) have jobs in Haryana, but similar laws in J&K hurt you.”
He said the BJP criticises Article 370 and 35-A even though these were provisions made in the Indian Constitution, and “not that of Pakistan’s”.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, addressing her party workers in Gandhi Nagar here, said they will not be mute spectators until Article 370 is restored. “We will fight for our right and our people, and they will have to return our identity by restoring Article 370.”
Referring to PDP’s alliance with BJP, she said, “When we joined hands with them, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured Mufti Mohammad Sayeed that Article 370 will not be touched. We have been ditched.”
She also criticised Prime Minister Modi for not mentioning the death of 20 brave soldiers in Galwan Valley while fighting the Chinese troops along the LAC in Ladakh at any of his rallies while campaigning for Bihar elections. “China has taken 1000 sq km of our land and are raising infrastructure, buildings. But no Central minister is ready to speak about China or its acts,” she said.
The former CM said: “They (government) are suppressing every voice. Protestors are being lodged in jails and tagged anti-nationals.”
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