Omar Abdullah

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National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress over their silence on attacks on Kashmiris.

“We had hoped he (the PM) would keep politics aside and say something. We had hoped he would say that whatever the governor (of Meghalaya who called for a boycott of Kashmiris) said was wrong and he shouldn’t have said it. But we haven’t heard anything,” Omar said.

“Our sons and daughters had gone for higher education to outside state and have nothing to do with politics and Kashmir issue. But they are being targeted, threatened and sent back. If I say their number is in hundreds it will be less because from everywhere we get news that our students are being forced out,” said Omar.

“No one spoke of an economic boycott of Chhattisgarh when incidents targeting forces took place there. Will we be punished for being a Muslim majority state?” he pointed out.

Omar referred to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s appeal to people for maintaining calm in the aftermath of Mumbai attack in 2008 and there was no selective targeting of a particular community.

Omar also attacked Congress, saying while the PM was silent, the leadership of Congress also remained silent. He said people of Kashmir were expecting to hear two words of sympathy and moral support from Congress.

“Today, they held a press conference and talked about everything. But they should have talked about systematic targeting (of Kashmiris) as well. We regret the Congress has not raised its voice against these forces effectively who are targeting Kashmiris,” he said. Attacking the BJP, Omar said these attacks “seem” to have support and approval of the party.

About of security to separatists and 155 ‘political persons’ in J&K, Omar said the security was provided to them by successive governments based on threat perception.

“Two prominent separatist leaders, Moulvi Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone who, at some point of time, supported dialogue for resolution of Kashmir, were killed by militants”.

He said, the government was asking them to prepare for elections and on the other, it is telling the mainstream politicians that they longer deserve the protection of the state.

“People who like Shah Faesal or others from PDP whose security has been withdrawn—to what extent will their mobility and their ability to occupy political space be hampered by this decision. I believe the withdrawal of security to mainstream political leaders and office-bearers is a hugely regressive step. We appeal to the governor to revisit this decision,” Omar said.

He mentioned that the NC has always wanted a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. “When Kashmiris pitch for dialogue, they are labelled as anti-national and Pakistani but yesterday during a joint meeting with Saudi Arabia, India commits for a composite dialogue,” he said.

“It would be unfortunate if PM sacrifices the dignity of the nation for the upcoming elections. We need a statesman instead of a politician,” he said.

“Our PM has talked about a ‘muh tod jawab’ but such a reply is not possible in the current situation as the Pakistan PM has also stated that they would not think of but retaliate if any attack is launched by India,” he said.

Omar asked governor Satya Pal Malik to ensure that the students who have returned don’t suffer on the academic front.

– Tahir Bhat

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