Students were charged for being Kashmiris: Omar

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2010 unrest worst period of my life: Omar

SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today expressed regret that BJP was turning 67 Kashmiri kids, recently expelled from a Meerut university for cheering  a particular cricket team, as pawns in coming elections for gaining political mileage out of the issue.

67 Kashmir students were slapped with sedition charges and expelled from the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University for cheering for Pakistani cricket team during the recent Asia Cup match with India but the charges were later withdrawn by the UP government.

Omar argued that if youngsters from any other part of the country would have cheered for Pakistan, it would not have been noticed. “But the fact is that these people are from Kashmir automatically changes the context,” he told India Today conclave here.

Omar stated that the Meerut episode will be used by BJP as the election tool as they already have written to the Election Commission of India (ECI) over the dropping of sedition charges against the students.

“The university has taken administrative action against them. And it should have been allowed to rest there,” he said.

The Chief Minister said his worry now was that the BJP was making it an election issue. “67 kids becoming pawn to what is turning out to be pretty messy election is pretty unfortunate,” he said.

Omar said the students should not be confused about their identity but even if they are confused, it does not call for slapping of sedition charge.

Omar also slammed students for cheering for the victorious Pakistani team.

“On one hand you take scholarship from Prime Minister of India for the higher studies and on the other hand you cheer for Pakistan”, he said. 

It was wrong. What they did was misguided.” However Omar maintained that the slapping of sedition charges against students was unnecessary and that the freedom of free speech is what makes India great.

Over the issue of alliance with NDA or BJP after the forthcoming parliamentary polls, Omar clarified that National Conference (NC) will never forge any alliance with BJP or NDA. “Our relation in the past was with Atal Bihari Vajpayee who took vital steps for Jammu and Kashmir and India’s relations with Pakistan.” Declaring that no government in India can even touch Article 370 without the consent of the state government, Omar reiterated that BJP was using the demand of abrogation of Article 370 as ‘election slogan’.

Stating that the great step that he strives to take for the youth of Kashmir is to remove the ‘uncertainty’ from their minds about their future, Omar said that the development of the tourism industry in the state would help in generating new job avenues for the youth. 

Answering the question about the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) Omar maintained that the fear of consequences has to be built up in Army operating in Jammu and Kashmir. “We have to make difference between legal cover and impunity. For sure there will be legal cover but there has to be the fear of consequences. 

Omar also dismissed the reports about the possible security consequences after the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan- stating that he doesn’t buy that argument that its impact will be on Jammu and Kashmir

Recalling the summer unrest of 2010 in which more than 120 people were killed during the protest demonstrations, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday termed that period the ‘worst one’ in his life.

“I won’t say that period was the worst one in my entire political career but it was worst one in my life- it consumed me and changed me in more ways than one,” said Omar while speaking at the India Today conclave 2014 at New Delhi.

Omar stated that during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir the biggest lesson he has learnt was that no single problem in the state is smaller in nature and that the same could any time accumulate into one massive problem like the summer of 2010. “At beginning I was dismissive of the smaller problems but I soon learnt that those smaller problems can accumulate into one massive problem.”

Recalling the 2010 summer unrest in the state, Omar while terming that time as ‘terrible’, stated that there was no easy way to get out of the situation. I don’t really remember that how I used to calm myself down during that period; said Omar adding that he wanted to put the state back on its rails and get things back to normal.   

” When asked how he spends his free time, Omar said, “In winter I go up to Gulmarg for ski. I love that freedom. The good thing in it is that my security people doesn’t know the skiing- they are learning the same.” Omar added that he loves to watch lot of American TV shows including Goodwife, Suits and Homeland.

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