J&K: ‘No government lasts forever,’ says Omar Abdullah on fight to restore Article 370
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister added that the coalition called the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration was not opportunistic.
National Conference leader Omar Adbullah on Thursday said no government lasts forever, referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre. He added that the recently-formed coalition, thePeople’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, will continue to fight for the restoration of special provisions under Article 370 that was abrogated on August 5, 2019, reported India Today.
“We’re not begging the government of India,” Abdullah said in an interview with India Today. “Our fight is in the Supreme Court. I’m not going to go to PM [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi with a begging bowl. No government lasts forever. We will wait. We will keep the pot boiling. We will not give up.”
On the alliance, he said that it was not opportunistic but political. Abdullah said that the coalition was a continuation of the meeting of the parties of Jammu and Kashmir that took place a day ahead of the Centre’s August 5 move. “Today [Thursday], we met to give it a proper name, a formal structure, a proper agenda,” he added.
The former chief minister further said that politics in Jammu and Kashmir is now centred on the restoration of special provisions of Article 370. “It [politics] is a constitutional and peaceful way to get back what was snatched from us unconstitutionally and illegally,” he added.
Omar Abdullah also clarified his father and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah’s statement that Article 370 will be restored with China’s help. Omar Abdullah said that his father did not make the statement, adding that the statement was formulated by a BJP spokesperson. He clarified that Farooq Abdullah had said that China was commenting on Jammu and Kashmir’s internal affairs.
The NC leader also refuted that his father said Beijing had intruded into Jammu and Kashmir because of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and that the people of the Union Territory would prefer being Chinese citizens. Omar Abdullah reiterated that his father was not supporting China, added that the NC chief was only reflecting what the people of Jammu and Kashmir felt.
A controversy had erupted on Sunday after Farooq Abdullah in another interview with India Today had 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. However, the National Conference had on Tuesday denied accusations that Farooq Abdullah had 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. Further, in an interview with The Wire in September, Farooq Abdullah had said Kashmiris do not feel like Indians and claimed that they would rather have the Chinese in the area. “Today, when China is advancing the other side, you know, many of them would rather have the Chinese coming in,” he had said.
During Thursday’s interview, Omar Abdullah also dismissed claims that the citizens of the Union Territory were angry with his family and the Muftis and said that the anger was not against them. “Show me a single piece of activity that these two entities have been able to do,” he said. “Mehbooba Mufti was in detention for 14 months, my father was in detention for months, I was in detention for nine months. There was enough time to create alternatives to us.”
When asked if he was angry at the central government, the Abdullah responded by asking if a person would come out happy after being detained. He added that he was locked up under the Public Safety Act and was considered a threat to his people. “Why don’t you ask those who locked us up?” he asked.
Omar Abdullah made the comments hours after the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, People’s Conference and other regional groups formed an alliance following a meeting of six Jammu and Kashmir-based parties to discuss the Gupkar Declaration in Srinagar. The other parties include the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement and the Awami National Conference.
“Ours is a constitutional battle...we would strive for [the] restoration of the constitution (with regard to Jammu and Kashmir) as it existed on August 5, 2019,” Farooq Abdullah told reporters after the coalition was formally declared.
Under the Gupkar Declaration, regional parties and the Congress resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight any move to dilute it. On August 22, the six parties had reaffirmed their commitment to the declaration and vowed to fight unitedly against the Centre’s decision to alter the region’s status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were detained last year. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti was on Tuesday released from a 14-month-long detention under the Public Safety Act. Omar Abdullah was released on March 24 as 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 released in July.