Srinagar: Regional mainstream party National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah on Sunday. addressing a gathering in Baramulla, observed that his party’s “outside support” for the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir recently was “aimed to stall the governor’s intention to make structural changes” in working of state institutions and “protect the state’s special status.”
He added that it was “highly unbecoming” of the governor’s administration to “fiddle with our institutions.”
“Our aim (behind supporting government formation) was not to enjoy the power but to defend the state laws like Article 35-A in the Supreme Court,” he said.
The Article empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. The Supreme Court of India had adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging its validity to January 2019.
Farooq rejected the accusation that NC was power-hungry and said: “I have proven my integrity when Jagmohan (a former J&K governor) was enforced on us.”
“My sole aim is to protect the honour of my people and for that I will go to any extent. The NC, PDP and Congress have different political goals, but the initiative to support the formation of government from outside was aimed to protect the state and its laws,” he said.
He stated that his party has no predilection for power and has never compromised on Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Constitution.
“We were obligated to shore up the alliance with the PDP-Congress following relentless and unfailing attacks on our special position by those who are inimical to the special status of our state. The sole purpose of the anticipated alliance was to put up a strong front against the forces who are fiddling with the working autonomy of our institutions, their hierarchy, and their basic structure,” he said.
Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21, dissolved the State Assembly, as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Conference (PC) separately staked claim to form a government after day-long political drama.
Former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, in the letter, claimed that she had the support of 15 MLAs from National Conference and 12 MLAs of the Congress, in addition to her 29 MLAs, putting the total number at 56. The Assembly has 87 members and any party would require 44 MLAs’ support to form a government.
Various political groups in the country and in the state have already been suggesting to the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti to move court against Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision. Various political parties accused that Governor’s decision to dissolve assembly was taken on GoI’s instructions and was undemocratic and unconstitutional.
Abdullah said had the NC been after power and position, his father and party founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah would not “have served penitentiary and confinement for more than two decades”.
“Had we in our party shown any inclination for power, I would not have kicked the chair and resigned from the post of chief minister when Jagmohan was deputed as governor to our state. The honour and dignity of my people is dearer to me than anything. However our struggle has been peaceful and non-violent,” he said.
Referring to the alteration in the structure and working of various institutions in the state, Farooq said it was “highly unbecoming” of the governor’s administration to “fiddle with our institutions”.
“At a time when a popularly-elected government is not in place, it is highly unbecoming of the state governor administration to fiddle with our institutions. The recent onslaught of SAC (state administrative council) on the prime financial institution of our state (J&K Bank) is a case in point”.
“I urge the incumbent administration to rollback the SAC decision of converting J&K Bank into a public sector undertaking as it will prove detrimental to working of the bank,” he said.
Reacting to JK Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone’s statement accusing NC of eroding special status of the state, Farooq said, “This accusation is baseless, but I can say about his late father (Abdul Ghani Lone) how he brought gun against the Indian State in Kashmir”.
“When my government was dismissed by the former governor Jagmohan, late Abdul Ghani Lone came to me and said he will go to Pakistan and get arms and ammunition from there, though I pleaded before him to desist from such an approach. However, after his return from Pakistan he repented and said it was his biggest mistake,” Farooq claimed.
Sajad earlier blamed NC, PDP and Congress for “systematically eroding” J&K’s special status.
Farooq urged India and Pakistan to “imitate the spirit of the Kartarpur corridor” in Jammu and Kashmir by opening all routes across the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB).
He said the initiative would not only help boost economic activities on both sides of the border, but also help rekindle the flame of friendship between India and Pakistan.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of members of India’s Sikh community to their religious site in Pakistan, was inaugurated both in India and Pakistan within a time gap of two days and is expected to be completed within six months.
Earlier, the Union Cabinet headed by PM Narendra Modi announced building the Kartarpur road corridor up to the international border between India and Pakistan to let Sikh pilgrims visit the gurdwara on the banks of the river Ravi in Pakistan.
Both Pakistan and India made the decision to allow the pilgrims visit the holy shrine without having to secure a visa.
The foundation stone in Gurdaspur was laid by Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu in the presence of the CM and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday.
The Government of Pakistan had also said that it would provide land to Sikh organisations for construction of modern hotels in Kartarpur, Nankana Sahib and Narowal, besides construction of a railway station in Kartarpur to provide state-of-the-art board and lodging facilities to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan.
“The states topography afforded it a geographical dividend that ceased to persist post 1947. I urge the governments of India and Pakistan to open the traditional routes between the two countries,” Farooq said Sunday.
He said increased people-to-people contact and other confidence-building measures can go a long way in doing away with the “mistrust”.