Past week, former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah stayed in the news and dominated social-media discussions, after he had chanted “Bharat maata ki jai” and “Jai Hind” while paying tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. As the video of Farooq chanting slogans went viral on social media sites, people took to Facebook and Twitter to remind him of his dual talk in Delhi and Kashmir. But the anger against Abdullah did not fade on the social media platforms. It spilled over into the real world as well.
A few days later, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha, as per routine, when Farooq Abdullah reached Dargah, Hazratbal, to offer special Eid prayers, he was cornered for his sloganeering in New Delhi. A video, shot by one of the worshipers, shows Farooq Abdullah sitting on a chair in front row, while hundreds of angry youngsters shout pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. At one point, Farooq Abdullah’s security, concerned about his safety, apparently ask him to leave, which he refuses. As the sloganeering intensifies, and people try to break the security cordon around him, with shoes in their hands, the people from the management of the Hazratbal shrine try to intervene unsuccessfully. In order to bring order, the Imam of the mosque started prayers quickly, with sound of anti-Farooq slogans still going on in the background. Within minutes of finishing the prayers, Farooq Abdullah left the Hazratbal.
Otherwise popular for his wit and ability to engage with common people, this was the second such occasion when Farooq Abdullah was heckled publicly.
In May 1987, immediately after Meerut riots, Farooq Abdullah and Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq were heckled at Eidghah Srinagar during Eid prayers by angry youngsters. The reaction was seen as precursor to 1987 elections. But unlike 2018, both Farooqs had their strong supporter bases in Srinagar, who helped them get away unhurt. Later, it was revealed that the disruption was caused by the members of Talah Party – which included Yaseen Malik and Ishfaq Majeed.
But during recent Eid incident at Hazratbal, there was nobody who came to Farooq Abdullah’s rescue.
A grim faced Farooq Abdullah later told reporters that he will keep on advocating peace. “There are people who will oppose the peace. But we have to keep on trying. For how long will the people of my state suffer?”
That was not all. The very next day Farooq Abdullah shocked everyone when he went out of his way and received Jammu and Kashmir’s new Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Srinagar airport. He was the only politician present at the airport. Being out of power, Farooq Abdullah’s goodwill gesture was seen as playing to galleries in New Delhi. A trait he has been criticised for in both Srinagar and Delhi.