Jammu- Reiterating his stand that the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 was "unconstitutional and unlawful", National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said his party is not ready to accept defeat and will continue its peaceful struggle for the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The former chief minister pooh-poohed the claims of the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders about normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to the erstwhile state, saying "except BJP-linked people, everyone else is disappointed".
"Some people are in a hurry to remove the word 'state' from everything as if J&K was never a state or its statehood will not be restored. While coming from Srinagar through Mughal Road, I saw some State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) trucks where the word state was removed using paint.
"They have changed the name of the company from JKSRTC to JKRTC even as the government is promise-bound to restore statehood... We are not ready to accept defeat. Let them try their best, we will continue our struggle in a peaceful manner for the restoration of our rights, respect, identity and honour," Abudllah said addressing party workers in the border district of Poonch.
He said the National Conference did not come on the roads and would not ask the people of Poonch to do that either to provide a handle for their arrest and firing of bullets and teargas.
"We will not take law into our own hands, disturb peace or make people fight each other. We will continue our struggle in a peaceful manner," he said.
Abdullah said the National Conference will knock every relevant door to ensure that the rights of the people are restored and they get justice.
Referring to the Supreme Court decision to consider listing after summer vacation the pleas challenging the Centre's decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370, the NC leader said, "We hope the hearing starts soon and the court gives its verdict".
"We are of the opinion that what happened (in August 2019) was unconstitutional and unlawful. There is delay in God's house but there is no darkness. It may take some time but we will wait," he said, adding "my heart says we will get justice and I have faith in it."
Cautioning the people against attempts to divide them on the basis of religion and regions, he said "we have suffered a lot and need to stand united to pull out J&K from this quagmire."
In an apparent reference to the BJP, he said, "They are trying to weaken us, divide us, suppress us and are playing with the future of our coming generations. You have to make a right decision on the right time (during assembly elections) to get rid of them and safeguard your future."
Lashing out at the BJP-led government, he said it has failed to keep a single promise made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir while justifying its decision to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate J&K into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
"They claimed that Article 370 was the biggest hurdle in the restoration of peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. Two-and-a-half years have passed, I do not see any peace prevailing. In Kashmir, the people are still being killed inside their homes and now even they started targeting people in government offices," he said, referring to the recent killing of a Kashmiri Pandit employee inside Tehsil office in Budgam and a Special Police Officer in Pulwama district.
He said the fear has increased as people lost the sense of security because the government had failed to provide them protection.
"We were told that Article 370 was the reason for creation of separatist ideology and its abrogation will change the minds and the separatist ideology," Abdullah said, adding adding there are some youths who want to take arms and tread the "wrong path" despite knowing the fact that they will be killed within a week, a month or six months.
They are misleading the people by saying that everything is alright, he said.
"The people were told that NC and others were the obstacle in the path of development. Where is that development? I left the chair of chief minister eight years ago and PDP's Mehbooba Mufti about four years ago. J&K is under central government rule since 2018 but the development is nowhere to be seen," he said.
Continuing his tirade against the central government, he said they are speaking about massive industrialization but the "fact is that not a new industry has come here over the past four years".
"Our industry is on the verge of collapse. Every six months, they are bringing in people from Arab countries and making them tour the valley for photo opportunities as nobody from our industrial sector in the country came forward for investment in Kashmir."
He said tourists visiting Jammu and Srinagar is good but expressed concern that these visits "fail to benefit" the people living in the remote villages of Poonch and other districts.
"The tourists come and go but it is unfortunate that they failed to bring a new area on the tourism map over the past four years," Abdullah said.
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