Omar Abdullah slams opposition leaders for ‘lip service’, says he will not engineer protests but fight legally

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Updated: Jul 28, 2020 10:54 AM

Omar Abdullah Interview: Omar Abdullah said he will continue to raise voice against Article 30 abrogation from Jammu and Kashmir democratically and will not hit the streets.

Omar Abdullah vows to fight politically, democratically and legally the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said that he will fight ‘politically, democratically and legally’ the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories. In an interview to The Indian Express on Saturday, Omar said the time for street protests to force a rethink had passed.

Omar, who was released from house arrest in March this year, said protesting on streets is not his style of politics and made it clear that he will not ‘engineer street protests’.

“I’m sorry, that is not me. It is not my politics, it is not my party’s politics. I will not engineer a protest to score a point. Particularly in Kashmir, where I know that an engineered protest will, in all likelihood, end very badly for poor youngsters who will get sucked into it,” he told the daily.

Omar Abdullah was among the mainstream politicians who were placed under house arrest by the Centre before the August 5 decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh division. Omar was released from preventive detention March 24. His father and former CM Farooq Abdullah was also released from house detention in the same month. However, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and a few others continue to remain under house arrest even after a year of the decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood.

Omar said if the people of Jammu and Kashmir are looking towards him as a person who will rally them out into the streets, then “I am not that person, I will not do that”.

“I will raise my voice against what has happened. I will fight against what has happened but I will not give somebody wearing a uniform with a gun an excuse or a reason to kill one of us. That’s not me,” the former CM of the erstwhile state said.

Lashing out at the Modi government, he said that New Delhi had reduced the political mainstream into an ‘element of ridicule’. Omar said he felt betrayed by the way opposition leaders had reacted to the Centre’s decision last August.

“Again, such a great degree of disappointment… I’m less resentful of their support to BJP on 35A and 370 but I’m deeply resentful about their support on the UT and the dismemberment, because they did not need to support the BJP on that,” he said, adding that “it was never part of the BJP’s agenda”.

He said that the state was divided into two UTS “purely to punish Jammu and Kashmir:. “To punish the people to humiliate them, there was no other reason for it,” he opined.

Omar said he will not stand up for a single opposition leader in future for any cause. Accusing the opposition of merely paying lip service to the detention of Jammu and Kashmir politicians, he said that the opposition leaders were happy to take his support when they needed it for their own causes but “they didn’t find common cause with us and honestly”.

“I will not stand up for a single one of them tomorrow. Not one of them. I won’t campaign for any of them, I won’t support any of them and god forbid any of them get taken off to jail, I will not utter a word for them, because they didn’t speak when people here were suffering… These people lost their voices,” he said.

“God forbid, anything like this happens to them, I will lose my voice as well. I have no cause with them. That’s it. I will speak for the people of J&K, I don’t speak for anybody else,” Omar said.

To a question on the future of mainstream politics in J&K, Omar said he has been asking himself and deliberating over all the way since August 5 last year.

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