Amid curbs, few NC workers turn up at Sheikh’s grave

‘Farooq, Omar not allowed to offer tribute’

SRINAGAR: A thin gathering of National Conference workers reached the grave of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Naseem Bagh on Wednesday to offer prayers on his 114th birth anniversary.
The NC founder’s sons including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mustafa Kamal and his grandson Omar Abdullah, however, were not allowed to visit the grave. While Farooq has been booked under Public Safety Act
and detained at his home, his son is lodged at Hari Niwas guest house since the abrogation of Article 370 in August.
Amid restrictions around the grave at Hazratbal a few trickled to his graveyard for offering tributes.
The only prominent face from NC leadership to reach the venue was Member of Parliament Hasnain Masoodi. Sheikh’s daughter Suraiya Abdullah along with her husband also reached the grave to offer
Traditionally, scores of NC workers along with the party leaders would gather at the graveyard every year making it a grand affair.
Masoodi attributed the small gathering to restrictions and unwarranted detention of the National Conference leadership.
Daughter of Sheikh Abdullah Suraiya Abdullah told the reporters that people should have been allowed to pay their tributes to their leader and their family members too should have been allowed to
reach the grave.
“My brother Farooq, sister Khalida and Umar Abdullah wanted to participate on this day and had sought permission from authorities , but were not allowed,” she said adding that the same is the fate
of our workers with few around and the rest would not come to grave out of fear,” she said.
Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the founder of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference was born on 5 December 1905. He served as Prime Minister before going to jail for 22 years and Chief Minister of
Jammu And Kashmir State after his release from jail. A government holiday is also observed on this day.
Talking to reporters, Masoodi said the restrictions on political activities puncture the balloon of normalcy in the Valley.
“The restrictions on Abdullah’s birth anniversary narrate their own story. It tells the people of the country about the normalcy that is being claimed. Should there have been such restrictions?
Shouldn’t Abdullah’s son (Farooq Abdullah) and his grandson (Omar Abdullah) be here on this day?” he said.
Masoodi said the protest-shutdown by the people, including the business community who open their establishments for a few hours only in the morning, was a message of “public disapproval” of the
abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
“This is a message to the people of the country that there has been a public disapproval of the decision taken by the Centre on August 5. All political activities have come to a standstill. All
leaders across parties are under detention. There is no possibility of any political activity taking place,” the MP from Anantnag said.
Asked about the party’s stand post the abrogation of the special status, Masoodi said, “This struggle in a way is the fight for the supremacy of the Constitution of India because the Constitution
was trampled to take such decisions.”
He said the party leaders would take a call on the way forward once the leadership is released from detention.
The party held a function at the NC headquarters Nawai-Subah where a few workers and party leaders, including Member of Parliament from north Kashmir Akbar Lone, paid tributes to Sheikh Abdullah.
No political statements were made during the function and the leaders generally focussed on paying tributes to Sheikh Abdullah.
However, NC leader Syed Akhoon later told reporters that Article 370 had been diluted by G M Sadiq in early 60s. Sadiq was the prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 1964 to 1965, when the
position was renamed to Chief Minister.
Lone said that the NC had carried out a lot of development even when the state was enjoying the special status.
NC sources said 14 members of the party, including former legislators, held a special prayer meeting inside the MLA Hostel here, which has been turned into a sub-jail where several politicians are
under detention.
The meeting was presided over by NC leader and general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar who offered special prayers to the party founder and paid him glowing tributes, they said.
With inputs from PTI

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