‘Kashmiris Do Not Feel Indian’, Farooq Abdullah Tells Karan Thapar

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SRINAGAR: “The frequent flashes of anger and displays of the emotion of Farooq Abdullah were back,” Karan Thapar wrote in a brief write-up in The Wire after conducting his interview, being webcast tonight.

The National Conference president and Jammu and Kashmir five times Chief Minister had told the celebrated interviewer that “at this moment the Kashmiri people do not feel and do not want to be Indian”.  Instead, he has said, “Kashmiris would rather be ruled by the Chinese, a point he reiterated” when Karan asked him “if he really meant this”.

Dr Abdullah also said Kashmiris are slaves and treated like second class citizens.

“It was complete rubbish for the Bharatiya Janata Party to claim that the people of Kashmir have accepted the August 2019 changes just because there have been no protests,” he said.

“Dr Abdullah says that the National Conference and, in fact, all the other parties were committed to restoring the dignity of Kashmiris by reinstating Articles 370 and 35A and restoring statehood,” The Wire reported. “He said he would fight for this – but always peacefully – till his last breath.”

In the interview, Abdullah says that the new domicile law was intended to flood the Valley with Hindus and create a Hindu majority. “He said this has further embittered the Kashmiri people. If the soldiers on every street and Section 144 were to be lifted, people will come out in their tens of lakhs,” it said.

When asked as to how Kashmiris view the Central government and, in particular, Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the report said, “Abdullah said they were deeply disillusioned. He said they had no trust in the Central government. The trust that once bound Kashmir to the rest of the country has completely snapped.”

Further, Abdullah also revealed details of his meeting with the Prime Minister roughly 72 hours before August 5, 2019, when the constitutional changes in Kashmir were announced. Then, Abdullah had asked the prime minister why there were so many troops in the Valley and whether this was because of any perceived military threat. He had met the Prime Minister seeking assurances about the continuation of Articles 370 and 35A.

“He said Modi did not say a word about Articles 370 and 35A. Consequently, Dr Abdullah emerged from that meeting believing the two Articles were not in danger,” the report added.

Speaking of himself he said he seemed to have fallen between two stools. “The Centre viewed him as a traitor and arrested him. Kashmiris, on the other hand, saw him as a servant of India and said things like this ‘serve Abdullah right’,” according to the report.

When asked why he had not raised this matter during the present session of parliament, which ends on Wednesday, September 23, he said he was not given time.

Abdullah told The Wire that in the greater interest of Kashmir the Mufti and Abdullah families have buried their past differences and come together. He said, today, Mehbooba Mufti was politically close to both his son Omar and himself. He said that he was in touch with her frequently, every week.

In one of the more angry moments of the interview, Abdullah asked why Mehbooba Mufti has not been released. “Is she a criminal?” he thundered in an interview.

Abdullah added that whether the National Conference will contest the next state elections is a decision that will be taken, first, democratically within the National Conference itself and he, as president, will not impose his personal thinking.

Abdullah said his son Omar Abdullah’s announcement in a recent Indian Express article that he would not contest elections whilst Kashmir remains a Union Territory is Omar’s personal decision and not the position of the National Conference.

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