Mustafa Kamal

“When I say unfettered (election), it means silence of the militant’s gun and non-interference of the security forces, particularly the Army in the election process. These two factors were mainly responsible for our defeat in our stronghold (South Kashmir) in 2002 and 2008” Says Mustafa Kamal In An Interview With IKHLAQ QADRI.

File Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Kashmir Life: Sheikh Nazir has been in his position for more than three decades. Now that you are the Additional General Secretary alongside him, what are your priorities?

Dr Mustafa Kamal: Our priorities are that because of his health he (Sheikh Nazir) was not able to reach out to the party cadre in the state which involves long travel.That would be number one priority to reach out to the party cadre in the districts and remote areas of the state and galvanize the cadre for the upcoming party elections.

KL: You have always been on the other side of debate. And you have often been reprimanded by your brother Dr Farooq Abdullah and nephew Omar Abdullah. Now, for the first time you have been given a decision making post in the party. How do you feel about it?

MK: Well primarily, as Additional General Secretary, I am now fulfilling the role of reducing the gap between the general secretary and party cadre.  Regarding decision making- that is and will remain with the General Secretary, the party president and the core group.

KL: Congress is your coalition partner in the government. You are accusing their leaders of creating controversies to defame Omar Abdullah, yet you stay in the government with them. Why?

MK: Democracy entails that the peoples’ representatives form a government to manage their affairs. The representative ensures them safety for their lives, property and essentials of life including health care and education. Obviously, due to the fractured mandate in 2002 and again in 2008 elections, National Conference emerged as the largest party in the state legislative assembly and in that capacity having rejected offer to form a government in 2002, we realize it was a mistake and we made up for that in 2008.

KL: You say it was a mistake. In what sense was it a mistake?

MK:  We were the largest party and we should have formed the government. There were groups and individuals who were prepared to support us and we would not to have PDP form a government and play havoc with the democratic institutions and lives of the people -be it corruption, sex scandal, Amaranth land row or the timber scandal.

KL: After witnessing two fractured mandates in two successive elections of 2002 and 2008, what do you think about the next election? Will your party be able to form a government of its own?

MK: See, most of the damage has come from South Kashmir. The gun and terror created by killing of National Conference cadre in that area resulted in low turnout of voters and supporters of NC, not voting because they feared for their lives. Even the patron of PDP entered the fray through the backdoor of MLC and nurtured the Pahalgam costituencyas chief minister for six months to win as MLA from that constituency and that too just by over five thousand votes.

NC supporters have not changed loyalty and InshaAllah in free, fair and unfettered elections,NC will go home with flying colors. When I say unfettered, it means silence of the militant’s gun and non interference of the security forces, particularly the Army in the election process. These two factors were mainly responsible for our defeat in our strong household, in 2002 and 2008. About the formation of government in next election, absolutely we will form it on our own, whether the elections are held on scheduled date or earlier.

We have done it and will do it again and not only with a simple majority, but we will cross the 2/3rdmajority because as per old adage, “rapid rise entails rapid fall,’ this is what will befall PDP, the party which is responsible for what has come to pass in the state since 1990.

KL: Once you referred to Congress leaders as ‘snakes’. You called them “conspirators” and a group of “power hungry” people. Hitting back, Congress leader, Makhan Lal Fotedar said, “If Congress leaders are snakes, then what is NC doing in the company of snakes?”Would you like to say anything about it?

MK: First and foremost I have never said they are snakes. I said they are gutter worms( gandi naali ke keeday). In the company of snakes, if one feels threatened he will give up that company. But more often than not, our relations with Congress have been strained but never inimical. This hot and cold relationship will only arise if the National Conference does not have the majority of its own.

NC cannot forget the help of Indian National Congress and their leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru of siding with our struggle against the autocratic rule and fighting the tribals. In fact, the Indian National Congress led by Jawahar Lal Nehru as Prime Minister of India came to our rescue in 1947 and saved us from the Pakistan backed tribal invasion.

At the same time they have let us down at the crucial moments of our history by playing treacherous role in 1953 and destabilizing duly elected governments in 1977, 1984 and despite repeated promises has till date not conceded NC demand of restoration of our constitutional position as enshrined in Article 370 of Indian constitution in its pristine glory as it was.

KL:On the issue of the custodial death of your party worker allegedly by torture at Chief Minister’s residence, your party did not allow a debate in the assembly. What did you fear?

MK: Assembly is not a party issue. Amotion that was given to the Speaker on that very day was that the business of the House that day included resolution of Mr Saifullah Mir, NC MLA from Kupwara. The honourable Speaker quoted the rule which says that two motions on the same subject can not be taken up on the same day. Had the normal business been allowed by the PDP, the discussion would have taken place in which PDP was free to participate. But they want to score a political point by getting the house adjourned; and they claim before the people that they are the ones who brought this discussion.

KL:Government ordered a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge into the custodial death of your party worker. It is going to be a long process for sure. Was this done to buy time?

MK: Well if you remember the Wullar tragedy, around 20 school children drowned and a judicial enquiry was conducted by a retired judge in one month. My point is that it is not true that judicial investigations take time.

In the Pandian Commission in the Pathribal case where five people were killed, they were taken out of their graves, Dr Farooq Abdullah’s government was there and it was proved through DNA tests that they were innocent, and justice Pandian gave the report against the Army.  They came to conclusion that the five killed people had nothing to do with militants, and were innocent people killed by security forces. The state government sent the case to the Central Government, then CBI came and they sent an application to the government of India (GOI) for prosecution, which has not come. Within one month that was over, that was the judicial enquiry. Here also, there already is a magisterial probe, ‘death under mysterious circumstances’ which has established that death has occurred due to heart attack. There were no external and internal injuries before death. Those who are raising the bogey of judicial probe are not going to settle. Despite being the senior lawyers of the Supreme Court,they have no faith in their judicial system.They want to make political mileage and government rightly has not paid any heed to it.

But here government has ordered for sitting judge. It is one and same thing. If you don’t get sitting judge, you can always have retired judge.

KL:Why did you prefer to issue statements outside the Assembly when the House was in session?

MK: I don’t remember. The motion was admitted, and the Assembly was taken into confidence. The press was full of it. I think he (Omar Abdullah) spoke in the Assembly. It was not a policy decision. It was sort of law and order problem. Assembly is not a super administration. It is convention and proprietary.

KL: Yousuf Shah was once known to be a ‘king maker’ and close aide of Abdullah family. Now he was termed as a ‘crook’ by the Chief Minister. What would you say as a worker of the same party?

MK: I agree with him (Omar Abdullah). He (MuhammadYousuf Shah) had taken advantage of his closeness to the Chief Minister. The deceased has received money from the other two. As far as I am concerned, it is not a case of corruption. Corruption is when the receiver is a public servant. If the giver and receiver are common people, it comes under cheating or give and take.This was bribery that took place between the three people, among whom one died. There are so many people coming to ordinary MLA’s and ministers, the Chief minister is no exception to crooks and shady characters meeting him and these taking advantage of it on innocent people.

KL:The CM’s representative is always a trusted man and Muhammad Yousuf Bhat of Ganderbal broke his silence saying ‘NC disappointed people’ and also said his efforts made Omar Abdullah win the 2008 election. How do you see it?

MK: Omar Abdullah won election by thousands of votes, I don’t know the exact figures. He has not won for the first time. He won twice as MP from Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam. Now claiming he was the kingpin is far fastened and smells of self praise just to raise his stock in the eyes of the people.

KL:The Speaker of the Legislative House who belongs to your party used abusive language against the fellow legislator. Many say it was the lowest ever the House has seen. How do you react?  

MK: The provocation came from the opposition member of Assembly who, pointing a figure towards law minister Ali Muhammad Sagar said ‘Is speaker saale ko kis ne banaya’. That was enough to trigger response from the speaker and he said in the assembly ‘if somebody uses abusive language against me, I will use double abusive language’. However, to smoothen the ruffled feathers, honorable speaker tendered unqualified apology to the member of the opposition on the floor of the house. This is enough to close the topic.


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