Assailing BJP, Farooq reiterates regional autonomy demand

JAMMU: National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah on Saturday reiterated grant of regional autonomy to different regions in Jammu and Kashmir to assuage the aspirations of people, an NC spokesman said.

“J&K is a unique state and needs special dispensation in terms of regional autonomy to satiate the urges of various regions”, Dr Abdullah said while speaking at a grand reception accorded at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhawan on his re-elections as National Conference President.

Without naming the BJP, he lambasted the overt and covert attempts being made to weaken Article 370 and said demand of autonomy is within the frame-work of the Constitution. He said National Conference will not allow the attempts of repealing Article 35-A to succeed. He said its fallout will be more disastrous for Jammu than other two regions of the State.

“The people will come here to take your land,“ he said accusing the party of raising the issue to make electoral gains and divide the people”, he added.

Dr Farooq Abdullah questioned the audacity of Peoples’ Democratic Party in advocating Self-Rule for Jammu and Kashmir, saying it could not safeguard the State’s special status and surrendered fiscal autonomy over  GST.

“What could have been our own prerogative over tax structure rests with the Central GST Council now”, Dr Abdullah said adding that the autonomy was the only viable solution in addressing to issues in Jammu and Kashmir.

He assailed the PDP for jeopardizing interests of the people and colluding with communal and anti-J&K elements. He said a worst type of nepotism has been unleashed by way of backdoor appointments, leaving youth of the state in lurch. He also hit hard at the coalition government for abandoning the border residents, who are stand exposed to harsher winter due to lack of shelter. He referred to his recent visit to various parts of Line of Control in north Kashmir including Teetwal and Machil and said the border dwellers were facing lot of problems due to failure of the government to provide better roads, communication, electricity facilities to them.

“The PDP-BJP alliance will have to pay for all its wrongs”, the National Conference President said, adding that the people were suffering due to non-governance, development deficit and lack of accountability.

Referring to hysteria being created on war mongering, Dr Farooq Abdullah He said wars were no solution to problems as these leave trails of blood, death and destruction. The plight of survivors, the widows and the families, becomes precarious due to neglect and abject failure in ensuring their welfare, especially when compensations are released. This leads to differences in the families and at times end into suppression of widows. Therefore, the welfare of the families after losing their dear ones is the responsibility of the army and the government; he said adding that this entire gamut can be taken care by an independent commission.

Dr Farooq Abdullah and other NC leaders in SK Bhawan at Jammu on November 18, 2017. Photo: NC

Dr Abdullah referred to his visit to the bereaved family of Sohanlal Bhagat, killed in Manipur and said the family stands now totally shattered and devastated. He lamented that none of the ministers in Jammu and Kashmir Government had time to visit the family.

“This is how soldiers and their families are treated”, he said and referred to the state funeral accorded by Himachal Pradesh to the soldier killed along with Sohanlal Bhagat in Manipur.

He sought constitution of a Commission to look into the plight of war-widows and families of the killed soldiers.

“Army chief General Bipin Rawat must work towards this and formulate a report on the condition of war widows to be tabled in Parliament”, Dr Abdullah said while assailing those indulging in war mongering.

Referring to over-reaction on his recent statement on PoK, Dr Abdullah invoked the then Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee saying that the sanctity of the Line of Control could not be trampled by crossing over during Kargil incursion. He also referred to return of the strategically crucial Haji Peer, conquered in 1965 and said National Conference had not advocated for this but Indian nation as such took this decision. “However, if India wants to liberate the PoK, let they move towards LoC with guns”, he said, adding that wars were not solution as these bring only death and destruction.

He cautioned against the machinations of those trying to divide people in the name of religion and said National Conference will not allow their agenda to succeed in Jammu and Kashmir, which is a shinning symbol of harmony and tranquillity. He referred to threats being hurled in different parts of the country to different segments of society on communal lines for voting them, adding that this is a grave situation which will only promote polarization. The country will have to guard against such tendencies, as this nation belongs to all—Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists etc.

Dr Farooq Abdullah expressed concern over emergence of communal forces and said this harms the spirit of togetherness and tranquillity. He said India will progress only when the society at large maintains its time-tested heritage and isolates those creating wedge for petty political ends. He said political myopism can have dangerous ramifications for the country and emphasised the need for strengthening secular forces.

“We want strong India and not a fragmented nation”, he said and pledged to fight the polarizing elements with full might.

He said unity among people and single entity of the regions is essential for harmonious growth of the state, adding that divisive politics can endanger the social fabric, cause disenchantment and vitiate communal harmony. He asked the party workers to work for forging amity between various segments of society and fighting divisive tendencies, as inclusiveness has all along been its fort.

Dwelling upon the prevailing political situation across the State, Dr Abdullah exhorted the cadre to be prepared for panchayat elections and chose public spirited honest representatives. He asked the women to participate for elections to democratic institutions at the grass roots level, as they were eligible to contest from 33 per cent reserved seats.

He said attempts would be made to divide the people once the elections draw closer.

People listening to Dr Farooq Abdullah in Jammu on Saturday, November 16, 2017. Photo: NC

“There will be conspiracies to divide the people on communal lines and split us but we have to remain alert and foil such nefarious designs. NC workers need to stand up at that time and safeguard everyone,” he said.

He described the panchayat elections as the first test of the party, saying the government is yet to take a decision as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is making different statements about the situation at different places. “She says in Delhi there was peace in Kashmir but in the Valley she says otherwise to avert the elections”, he said while referring to the parliamentary polls in March-April last.

“She is saying in Delhi that here is peace (in Kashmir), but on reaching Kashmir she is saying there is no peace and election is not possible because she knows very well that her brother will lose (the election from Anantnag parliamentary constituency,” he said.


Provincial President Devender Singh Rana welcomed Dr Farooq Abdullah at the reception on behalf of the office bearers and workers of the Jammu region while senior leaders presented bouquets, profusely garlanded and greeted him on his re-election.

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