National Conference President and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said that Kashmiris do not feel like Indians, even claiming that they would rather have the Chinese in the area, according to The Wire.
“Today, when China is advancing the other side, you know, many of them would rather have the Chinese coming in,” Abdullah told The Wire in an interview with journalist Karan Thapar. “They know what the Chinese have done to the Muslims in their region.”
Thapar asked Abdullah if he was serious about it, to which the former chief minister replied that he was being honest. “I am telling you what people do not want to listen to,” he said.
Abdullah also refuted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s claims that Kashmiris have accepted the Centre’s move in August 2019 to revoke the special status granted to the erstwhile state.
“How can you have protests if every street is full of your soldiers standing there,” Abdullah said. “Can you have [a] protest? Would you be able to do [a] protest here in Delhi if every street was littered with armed gunmen?”
If Section 144 and the security forces were removed, people would come out on the streets in lakhs, he said.
The National Conference chief further said that Kashmiris had no love for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He said that there was a difference between Modi and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“He [Vajpayee] was also RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh],” Abdullah said in the interview. “But, you remember how we won the hearts of people – Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat, Kashmiriyat [humanity, peace and keeping the sanctity of the people of Kashmir].”
Abdullah also revealed that he had met Modi about 72 hours before the decision to revoke Article 370 was announced. The prime minister had told him that the increase in the number of troops in the region was due to security purposes, Abdullah said, adding that he left the meeting feeling assured.
On a question whether the prime minister deceived him, Abdullah said, “He is deceiving the nation now so deceiving Farooq Abdullah does not make a damn difference.”
He said that after the move to revoke special status, residents of Kashmir saw him as a servant of the central government, not the state. He, however, added that after his detention, his standing, along with the National Conference and other mainstream parties in the Valley, has been restored.
When asked how Kashmiris feel when they read about atrocities committed against Muslims in other parts of India – including lynching people in connection with selling beef, and the Delhi Police allegedly targeting members of the community during the February riots even while BJP members who had made remarks against the Muslims were spared – Abdullah said people were feeling bitter.
Abdullah said they would continue to fight for the statehood of Kashmir without “guns and bombs” and die fighting, but would “not give up till the last breathe”. “Our fight will continue till you [the Centre] return our dignity.”
Abdullah also said he hoped that the Supreme Court would hear his party’s petition, which was being pushed.
The former chief minister also agreed to Thapar’s statement that Centre was bringing in domicile laws to change make the Muslim-populated region a Hindu-dominated one. “Don’t do anything that will hurt the country,” he said.
On Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti’s detention, Abdullah asked if she was a criminal. When asked if the detention has affected her, he asked how will it not as she was only a human being.
The former chief minister also spoke about his son and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who had said that he will not contest elections as long as Kashmir remained a Union Territory. It is his personal decision and not that of the National Conference, Farooq Abdullah said, adding that he would abide by whatever decision the party takes.
Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – were put under house arrest before the August 5, 2019, decision.
Omar Abdullah was released seven months later on March 24 after the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked his detention order under the Public Safety Act. Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13. People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone was formally released on July 31. However, Mehbooba Mufti remains in detention.