“Well, to be honest, I wonder whether they will find someone in Kashmir who will call himself an Indian today,” said National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, in a passionate interview, peppered with strong emotions, to The Wire’s Karan Thapar.
Abdullah is a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and a present member of Parliament, who was detained, among many other political figures, in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.
In response to a question on what had happened in his meeting with PM Modi, approximately 72 hours before the abrogation in 2019, Abdullah said that he had, in fact, asked PM Modi why so many troops were being moved into the state. PM Modi, however, Abdullah said, had been “completely silent on that.”
"“He said things are alright, we have heard of some security concerns. But nothing about why they were going. And no mention of Articles 370 or 35A. We left the meeting feeling very pleased.” " - Farooq Abdullah to The Wire
On being asked if he had felt deceived by the PM, Abdullah said:
"“Well he’s deceiving the nation today, so deceiving Farooq Abdullah doesn’t make any damn difference.”"
Recalling former PM Vajpayee’s charm over Kashmiri people, Abdullah said, “Do you remember how Vajpayee won the hearts of Kashmiri people with Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat?”
A Loss of Trust
Abdullah, in the interview, said that Kashmiris don’t feel Pakistani, but they don’t any longer feel Indian either. He further said that when all odds had pointed towards Pakistan, they had gone against the tide and joined India, because they had trust in India.
Further, Abdullah, said, “many Kashmiries, if you talk to them, would rather have the Chinese come in.”
He further went on to explain why that was so. “They are sick of what they are having to put up with,” said Abdullah.
Restoration of Dignity
Abdullah also said that the National Conference and all the other parties that had come together to issue the Gupkar Declaration of August 2019 were committed to restoring the dignity of Kashmiris. This, Abdullah said, meant reinstating Articles 370 and 35A and restoring statehood.
Abdullah further said:
"“India fought the British rule for 200 years… We will continue to fight for our rights too. Not by guns, not by bombs, but the Gandhian way of fighting. We may die fighting. But we are not going to give up. Our fight will continue till you don’t return our dignity.“ "
Speaking about whether he will contest the next state elections or not, he said that he will leave it on his party to democratically decide. About his pending Constitutional case, Abdullah said that he hoped the court saw his interview, and understood the Kashmiri sentiment.
Further, he talked about how Muslims all over the country are labelled “Pakistani”, “Traitors”, and discriminated against. “This is not what India was,” bemoaned Abdullah.
On Mehbooba Mufti’s Continuing Detention
Abdullah shared with The Wire that all the parties in Kashmir have come together and moved past their old differences. He also said that his son Omar and him were now close to Mufti.
In a moment of vulnerability, that may have betrayed slight anger on Abdullah’s part, his eyes grew wide with emotion, as he vehemently demanded an answer to why Mufti was still in detention.
“This is not Indian democracy! She has every right to be a free citizen,” Abdullah emphatically pointed out.
(With inputs from The Wire)
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