By Malik Zahra Khalid Dr Aaliya Ahmed
Senior Assistant Professor, and Senior assistant professor in MERC,
Media Education Research Centre, Kashmir University
Dr Farooq Abdullah has found an opportunity in the current unrest to resurrect his party and his person to make a comeback in Kashmir politics. After the drubbing in parliamentary elections when he lost Srinagar parliamentary segment to Tariq Hameed Karra, many journalists wrote his political obituary.
His ailment and finally the kidney transplant made it clear to all National Conference activists that they will have to deal with Omar Abdullah. The demise of former National Conference General Secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmed provided more ground and opportunity to Omar Abdullah to prove his political and organizational skills to give a decent burial to the era of Sheikh Nazir and Dr Farooq Abdullah.
But events and many happenings in Kashmir changed the entire political scenario. Many journalists and analysts believe that New Delhi has realized that he is again their best bet to retrieve Kashmir and have provided space and circumstances for his resurrection. Many analysts argue that re-emergence of Dr Farooq Abdullah on the political turf of Kashmir is largely because Farooq has done an introspection especially after the release of book by spy master A K Daulat.
The willy politician in Farooq Abdullah could pick up some vital signals by the book of A K Daulat. He realized that challenging New Delhi, mocking its powers and to remain pro-separatist and pro-talks were some of the important planks for his political survival in Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq has realized that he has a bigger role to play and has more acceptability across the divide because of his dynastical roots and political stature. His latest controversial comments about PAK that it was not some ancestral property of India is Farooq’s way of testing waters across the border. His raising of civilian killings by Indian troops in PAK more forcefully than Geelani has shown that there is a clear method in his madness.
Farooq has started tearing into the strong forts of PDP and BJP in entire state. Despite his age and ailments he is holding public meetings in communally sensitive Chenab region trying to stall the march of Hindu right wing elements in this region. Farooq Abdullah in Jammu region is trying to convey to people that National Conference was the only party which is for the equitable development of all the three regions bereft of any religious exploitation.
In Kashmir valley he is batting for separatists and has justified the current unrest even stone pelting apparently to elbow out PDP from the rural pockets of Kashmir valley especially in South Kashmir. Fear in Farooq has disappeared and perhaps knowing that time is not on his side he is looking for shortcuts to challenge New Delhi and to remind them of their broken promises and the games they have played with Kashmir to erode the special status conferred on it by Article 370.
Farooq Abdullah said that Kashmir will never remain with India if it becomes a Hindu Rashtra referring to recent remarks of RSS Chief Mohan Baghwat. Farooq said that Kashmir will never become part of Pakistan either, but blamed New Delhi for pushing Kashmiris to wall by giving a damn to their political aspirations.
“I am not ready to listen to RSS Chief who says India is Hindu Rashtra then I want to tell him that Kashmir will not remain India’s part. Kashmir has acceded to India only because of its secularism and India was keen for it because it wanted to assure its fear stricken Muslims that when Muslim majority J&K can remain with India why not them”, Farooq said. He cautioned BJP and RSS that if they will try to erode constitution, they should be ready for a situation which they cannot control. Asking the secular forces to unite, he said that all such leaders should speak in one voice against RSS propaganda. “According to the Constitution, India is a secular nation and not a Hindu-Rashtra. If he says that it is a ‘Hindu-Rashtra’, then he is talking against the Constitution of India and Government of India should take action against him because every religion has an equal opportunity according to the Constitution.
Addressing his party workers in Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah said that Kashmir will never become part of Pakistan, but told New Delhi to start unconditional dialogue for the political resolution of Kashmir problem. He said that New Delhi should address the political aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir and should restore their honour and prestige by reverting back to 1952 Delhi Agreement.
Farooq reminded New Delhi that they promised him moon under Indian Constitution in 1996 and said that Kashmir would be normal forever, if New Delhi listens to their hearts and restores autonomy in its full form. He blamed BJP government led by Vajpayee for rejecting the resolution passed by J&K Assembly for the restoration of autonomy. Lashing out at Centre and Mehbooba Government here, Farooq said that they should come out of the misconception that by holding examinations for class 10th and 12th they have normalized Kashmir. He said instead of wasting time, New Delhi should start unconditional dialogue with Hurriyat for the permanent peace in sub-continent. Farooq said that New Delhi should also start dialogue with Islamabad and hammer out a solution of Kashmir problem to give people in this region a permanent relief.
Batting for separatists, Farooq said, “God willing we will achieve our goal and we cannot be suppressed by force. We will not hesitate to get our political justice even if we will have to sacrifice our lives for it”. He regretted that some Union Minister were making statements which amount to rubbing wounds of Kashmiris and trying to belittle their struggle for the political rights. Referring to Union DefenseS Ministers statement, Farooq Abdullah said that students appeared for examinations because state government gave them 50% cut in the syllabus. He said if such examination and demonetization of currency will end the Kashmir unrest, God bless Modi Government. Such controversial remarks clearly indicate Farooq Abdullah is desperate to go in annals of history as a tall leader who cared for the people of entire J&K state on both sides of the divide and challenged both New Delhi and Islamabad on the pattern of his father Late Sheikh Abdullah. Farooq Abdullah has complete assessment that he has underestimated his stature when he was ruling J&K state and has now decided to overcome his shortcomings, the fear of being incarcinated by New Delhi if he speaks truth.
Appealing Prime Minister Narindra Modi to give justice to the people of J&K, Farooq said that Modi Ji please answer the children on the streets of Kashmir who are demanding complete independence from India and Pakistan. He said that it is the result of betrayals and injustice committed by New Delhi with Kashmiris from the past 70 years. Reminding Prime Minister Modi of history and God, he said that everyone would be asked as ruler whether he has done justice with oppressed people. Justifying the stone-pelting and protests, Farooq Abdullah invoked Newton’s Law that to every action there is equal and opposite reaction.
Referring to the border firings, he said that who is dying by the hostility of India and Pakistan only the innocent people of divided Jammu and Kashmir. He said that both countries should stop this madness and allow the people of both sides of the border to live with peace and honor.
Hitting the BJP hard and invoking the required criticism Farooq Abdullah is advocating maximum autonomy for both parts of Kashmir and has clearly said that India does not have the required guts and nerve to get POK from Pakistan. Farooq Abdullah is surely making a place for himself as a combative opposition leader who is out to eat his opponents on a plate as he has realized that they are all pygmies living on borrowed time of New Delhi.
He has recently told Mehbooba Mufti to step down as Farooq claims there is no writ of the government in Kashmir and this has many takers in the serious policy circle of New Delhi. They have started realizing that side stepping or removing Mehbooba Mufti can bring down the tempers on the streets of Kashmir and all their experiments to cut to size Farooq and his party National Conference has boomeranged.
The new avatar of Farooq Abdullah has really rattled Mehbooba Mufti and her party PDP and she is seriously mulling to go for a cabinet reshuffle to accommodate all those ‘naraz’ PDP MLA’s who may finally rally around Farooq Abdullah in future. Farooq is trying to keep his son Omar Abdullah on back seat as he does not has the required charisma and nerve to take on PDP and BJP simultaneously.