The Modi government had on August 5 abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and converted it into two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh division.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday declared that his party, National Conference, will continue to oppose the Modi government’s August 5, 2019 decision to scrap the status of statehood and bifurcate it into two Union Territories. In an op-ed in The Indian Express on Monday, Omar said he will not contest Assembly elections until the government restores its full statehood.
The Modi government had on August 5 abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and converted it into two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh division. The UT of Jammu and Kashmir has a unicameral Legislative Assembly. However, elections are yet to be held in the UT even after a year of its creation.
The National Conference has challenged in the Supreme Court the decision to abrogate Article 370 and carving out of two UTs from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“As for me, I am very clear that while J&K remains a Union Territory I will not be contesting any Assembly elections. Having been a member of the most empowered Assembly in the land and that, too, as the leader of that Assembly for six years, I simply cannot and will not be a member of a House that has been disempowered the way ours has,” Abdullah wrote.
The Centre had placed mainstream politicians including former CMs — Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti and others under house arrest since August 5 last year. While many of them have been released, including Omar and Farooq, Mufti and a few others continue to remain under house arrest.
Omar said that almost all his senior colleagues are still detained in their homes. He said that the National Conference is yet to meet to decide its next political course of action.
The NC leader, however, said he will definitely work diligently to strengthen the party and carry forward its agenda and continue to represent the aspirations of the people “while we fight against the injustices heaped on J&K in the last one year”.
He also said that then Governor Satpal Malik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he had met 72 hours before the August 5 decision, didn’t take him into confidence. The politician said he was given a completely different picture by the government at that time, saying that additional troops are being sent to the border state for the impending Assembly elections.
“We, in the J&K National Conference, do not agree with what has been done to J&K nor do we accept what has been done. We shall oppose this, our opposition will continue in the highest court in the land in the form of the legal challenge filed in the Supreme Court last year. We have always believed in democracy and peaceful opposition. Sadly these very democratic rights were trampled on a year ago,” he said.
Omar said the justification given for revoking the special status of Jammu & Kashmir doesn’t stand the test of basic scrutiny a year later.
“It was alleged that Article 370 has fuelled separatism and allowed militant violence to thrive in Kashmir, an end was supposed to herald the end of terrorism. If that be the case, then why is it that almost a year later the same Union government is forced to tell the Supreme Court that violence in J&K is increasing?” he asked.
Article 370 has kept the people of J&K in poverty was another claim, the NC leader noted. He said even a cursory glance at poverty figures will show that J&K has some of the lowest levels of poverty in the country.
Omar also said that Article 370 was alleged to have denied investment in Jammu and Kashmir but prior to the outbreak of militancy in the state, “J&K was amongst the most progressive states with a growing industrial base and impressive investment in manufacturing”.
The junior Abdullah said to this day, “I fail to understand the need for this move, except to punish and humiliate the people of the state”.
On Ladakh, he said that if the reason for carving out a separate UT for Ladakh was the public demand among the Buddhist population of the area, then the “demand for a separate state for the people of Jammu is a much older demand”.
He claimed that if the demand was conceded on religious grounds, then the government ignored the fact that Leh and Kargil districts are Muslim majority and that the “people of Kargil are vehemently opposed to the idea of being separated from Jammu and Kashmir”.