Jammu: In yet another controversial remark, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Monday dared New Delhi to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar before talking about unfurling it in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).
Abdullah’s remarks drew criticism from the BJP, with Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh saying the National Conference leader was strengthening the separatists and the militants. He said the tricolour was being hoisted in all parts of the state, including in Lal Chowk.
Abdullah, who had recently claimed that PaK can never become part of India, said he only stated facts.
“They (Centre and BJP) are talking about raising flag in PaK. I ask them to first go and raise the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. They can’t even do that here and they are talking about PaK,” he said.
“If you don’t like to hear the truth, then live in the untruth,” he said. “The truth is that (PaK) is not our part and this (J&K) is not their part. That is the truth.”
He was speaking to reporters after paying tributes to the late Congress leader and MP, GL Dogra, on his 30th death anniversary.
Asked whether he was not hurting the Indian sentiment by making such comments, he retorted, asking, “What is Indian sentiment? You think I am not an Indian?
“Whose sentiments are you talking about? Those crooks, who don’t see our miseries? Who don’t see the miseries of our border people? How they suffer when shelling starts?” he said.
When asked to comment on the recent killing of an armyman on leave, he said the Government of India (GoI) should be asked the question as it claimed peace had returned to Kashmir after demonetisation.
“Claims of peace (in Jammu and Kashmir) are falling flat in the face of increased killings. Yet another jawan (soldier) has been abducted and killed,” he said.
He attributed the grim security scenario to infiltration by militants from across the border and said the GoI would have to frame its response vis-a-vis Pakistan for the larger interest of peace in the region.
All problems are originating from across the border and the life of those living along the border has become pitiable due to intermittent shelling, he said.
“The nation should be taken into confidence as to how the Centre is sorting out issues with the neighbouring country,” he said.
Unfazed by criticism of his remarks that Pakistan-administered Kashmir belonged to Pakistan and “this won’t change”, he said, “Conversion of the Line of Control (LoC) into a line of peace will improve the living conditions of people on both sides and promote interaction and goodwill.”
Abdullah deprecated the incident where two students did not get up when Indian national anthem was being sung in Rajouri district a few days ago.
“Honour to the nation is important and national anthem is most honourable,” he said, adding that the government should take action against the students until they apologised.
Abdullah termed the meetings of the GoI’s special envoy on Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, with people as a “formality” and said peace would be achieved only when “sincere and serious efforts” were made.
About the proposed withdrawal of cases and release of “stone-pelters”, the NC president said, “The coalition is itself uncertain about all this… At times they say the stone-pelters would be released and at times they talk about sending juveniles to rehabilitation centres.”
On the upcoming panchayat elections, Abdullah blamed the coalition government for trampling democracy by introducing “indirect election of Sarpanchs” and said “it is against the spirit of democracy at grassroots level”.