New Delhi: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Member Parliament Farooq Abdullah has said that the people of Kashmir don’t want to be called Indians today and that they would rather prefer to be ruled by China, instead of India.
“To be honest, I wonder whether they (Modi govt) will find somebody who will call himself an Indian today. What they did on 5th August last year, was the last nail in the coffin of India. And that’s what they did. You go and talk to anybody; they don’t want to be known as Indians,” Abdullah told Karan Thapar in an exclusive interview.
The most prominant pro-India leader in Jammu and Kashmir also said that the people of Kashmir have lost trust in India.
“We had joined Gandhi’s India, not Modi’s India,” he said.
“Peiople no longer feel secure about retaining the Muslim majority status of Jammu and Kashmir”, Abdullah said pointing out that Kashmiris had joined Gandhi’s India (in 1947), built on trust and the principles of equality and religious freedom but not Modi’s India where minorities are being targetted.
He even went so far as to say that they would rather be ruled by the Chinese, a point he elaborated when he was asked if he really meant this.
The NC patron went on to say that the people of Kashmir would prefer to be ruled by Chinese than India.
“Today, when China is advancing on the other side, you know many of you talk to them they would have rather Chinese coming in. I am honest about it. He said that this was “despite the fact that they know what Chinese have done to Muslims.” Farooq said that this was the general mood on the ground and added, “Today, the Kashmiris are unwilling to listen.”
Abdullah also described the Kashmiris as slaves who were being treated like second class citizens.
In the 44-minute interview broadcast on The Wire, the NC leader rubbished Bharatiya Janata Party’s claim that the people of Kashmir have accepted the August 2019 changes just because there have been no protests.
He said if the soldiers on every street and Section 144 were to be lifted, “people will come out in their tens of lakhs.”
Abdullah alleged that the new domicile law was intended to flood the Valley with Hindus and create a Hindu majority. He said this has further embittered the Kashmiri people.
Asked as to how Kashmiris view the Central government and, in particular, Prime Minister Modi and union home minister Amit Shah, Abdullah said they were deeply disillusioned. He said they had no trust in the Central government. The trust that once bound Kashmir to the rest of the country has completely snapped, he added.
“This is because they are sick of what they are putting up with,” Farooq Abdullah said, adding, that when every street is manned by soldiers, when there are constant restrictions and no freedom to speak, the Kashmiris feel disillusioned. “The dreams of our children are gone overnight…..Even something like 4G does not exist. They have to rely on 2G. How are they going to compete with rest of the Indians?”
He reminded that some years ago when former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had compared Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, “we were better in almost all the development indices”. But, he lamented, “today, we are at the bottom”.
Emotionally charged, Abdullah said that the BJP was peddling lies to the people by saying everything is Ok. “How much are they going to fool the people of India,” he quizzed while contesting the government calims on decline in militancy. “They are saying it is down by 50 percent. Bullshit!. …Only yesterday there was an encounter. Some days ago, there was an encounter very close to the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar.”
Abdullah revealed details of his meeting with the Prime Minister roughly 72 hours before August 5, 2019 when the constitutional changes in Kashmir were announced.
He had met the Prime Minister seeking assurances about the continuation of Articles 370 and 35A. He asked the prime minister why there were so many troops in the Valley and whether this was because of any perceived military threat.
Abdullah suggested the prime minister deliberately went out of his way to give him the impression the massive increase in troops was for security purposes. He said Modi did not say a word about Articles 370 and 35A. Consequently, Abdullah emerged from that meeting believing the two Articles were not in danger.
Abdullah said that on August 5, 2019, when the constitutional changes were suddenly announced, the National Conference and all other mainstream political parties stood badly discredited in Kashmiri eyes.
Speaking of himself, he said he seemed to have fallen between two stools. The Centre viewed him as a traitor and arrested him. Kashmiris, on the other hand, saw him as a servant of India and said things like this ‘serves Abdullah right’. They chided him and taunted him for having said “Bharat Mata ki jai.” This left him deeply shaken and upset.
However, after 7-8 months in detention his standing and that of his party and other mainstream parties has been considerably restored in Kashmiri eyes. People now realise they are not “servants of India”, he said.
Abdullah said that the National Conference and, in fact, all the other parties that had come together to issue the Gupkar Declaration of August 2019, which was reiterated on August 22 this year, were committed to restoring the dignity of Kashmiris. He said this meant reinstating Articles 370 and 35A and restoring statehood. He said he would fight for this – but always peacefully – till his last breath.
Abdullah said that he had faith in the Supreme Court and hoped that it would stop postponing the petition his party has brought and hear it expeditiously. In the interview he, in fact, appealed to Supreme Court judges to hear the constitutional case quickly.
Asked why he had not raised this matter during the present session of parliament, which ends on Wednesday, September 23, he said he was not given time. He said he had gone to meet Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla, along with MPs from Congress, Trinamool, DMK and the Communist Parties, and the speaker had assured them time for a discussion would be allocated. But that never happened. Asked if he believed the government had intervened and told the speaker not to give time, Abdullah said he did not know but agreed that the speaker had not kept his word.
The NC MP said that in the greater interest of Kashmir, the Mufti and Abdullah families have buried their past differences and come together. He said, today, Mehbooba Mufti was politically close to both his son Omar and himself. He said that he was in touch with her frequently, every week.
In one of the more angry moments of the interview, Abdullah asked why Mehbooba Mufti has not been released. “Is she a criminal?” he thundered.
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