The National Conference on Tuesday denied accusations that its chief Farooq Abdullah justified Chinese action along the Line of Actual Control, or suggested that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir could only be restored with Beijing’s help, PTI reported.

“Our President articulated the people’s anger over the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A by Parliament on August 5 last year as he has consistently done in recent months,” a spokesperson of the National Conference said. “He emphasised that no one in Jammu and Kashmir was willing to accept these changes.”

A controversy erupted after Abdullah in an interview with India Today on Sunday claimed that the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 had spawned tensions between India and China, sparking off a months-long bitter standoff in Ladakh. Abdullah said China has never accepted India’s decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s semi autonomous status and split it into Union Territories.

“Whatever they [China] are doing at LAC in Ladakh [is] all because of the abrogation of Article 370, which they never accepted,” the channel had quoted Abdullah as saying. “I am hopeful that with their support, Article 370 will be restored in J&K.”

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra came down heavily on Abdullah and said his statements were seditious and anti-national. Patra said that the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister had become the “hero of China”.

“He is a former chief minister and sitting MP and yet in an interview said that Article 370 that has been abrogated in Parliament should be installed with the help of China. A sitting MP is using such words for the country. He thinks that China’s aggression is because Article 370 has been nullified. He categorically states that since Indian Parliament abrogated Article 370, China is disturbed and that is why China’s aggression is justified. He seems to justify the expansionist tendencies of China.”    

— Sambit Patra, the Hindustan Times

However, the National Conference accused the Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson of twisting Abdullah’s words. “Sambit Patra has a habit of twisting words and using the bully pulpit of the BJP office to lie when it suits the political agenda of his party,” the spokesperson said. “Dr Abdullah never said that together with China we will bring back Article 370 as Mr Patra claimed at a media briefing in which he also misquoted some previous statements of Dr Abdullah.”

Article 370 and China

A year ago, Jammu and Kashmir was placed under the strictest lockdown in its history on August 5 as the Centre introduced two bills in Parliament and had them passed in quick succession. The new legislation split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, stripped it of special status under Article 370 and repealed Article 35A, which ensured specific rights and protections to residents of the state.

A day after India changed Kashmir’s status and bifurcated Ladakh into a Union Territory, China had accused India of undermining its territorial sovereignty by “unilaterally changing its domestic law”. “Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force, China’s foreign ministry had said. China later also joined Pakistan in condemning India’s move at the United Nations Security Council.

A year later on the anniversary of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status, China had reiterated that any “unilateral” change is “illegal”, after which New Delhi issued a riposte that Beijing has “no locus standi” on the matter.