Srinagar: The car came to a screeching halt near the erstwhile Broadway Cinema. Farooq Abdullah was furious and gave two of his colleagues on the rare seat a scornful look. “Tell these bastards to get out. They have insulted a patriot,” Abdullah told his colleague who gave him company on the front seat.
It was 1975; the political firmament of Jammu Kashmir had changed. National Conference (NC) had been revived and people were desperate to join it. Abdullah was taking Waheed Raina and Sharief-ud-Din to Ghulam Rasool Kochak’s residence. Columnist and former bureaucrat, Ghulam Muhammad Zahid accompanied them.
Kochak, Waheed and Sharief had joined Satantara Party and were desperate to come back to NC which they had deserted. Abdullah had promised to drive them to the NC head office.
During the journey, Wahid and Sharif discussed JKLF founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat as Abdullah and Zahid listened keenly. One of them said Bhat was a double agent and not a real freedom fighter. “This angered Abdullah so much that he humiliated the persons whom he had promised rehabilitation in the NC. Abdullah lost his cool and even called them bastards,” according to Zahid.
Earlier in July 1974, Abdullah had visited Pakistan-administered Kashmir along with his friends and held several rounds of discussion with Kashmiri activists including those belonging to the Plebiscite Front. Abdullah spent few days in Mirpur with Maqbool Bhat, Amanullah Khan and Abdul Khaliq Ansari. Abdullah had reportedly agreed in principle to work with Bhat for “liberation of Kashmir.” JKLF people say with authority that Abdullah had joined their organization, which seeks independence from India and Pakistan, during his visit across the Line of Control.
On his return to Srinagar, Abdullah and his friends addressed a gathering at Lal Chowk on July 7 and threatened militant struggle in case the dialogue with Plebiscite Front and New Delhi failed to yield the ‘desired results’.
However, Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg in his address urged the gathering not to take Abdullah and his friends from Mirpur seriously. “They are a sentimental lot,” he said.
Abdullah has repeatedly spoken against Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. He has ridiculed almost all the pro-freedom leaders, but he has never spoken against Bhat.