The National Conference never sided with Pakistan and always stood rock-solid with India, its president Farooq Abdullah asserted on Saturday, as he targeted separatist-turned-mainstream politicians for trying to weaken the party.
The former chief minister advocated for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and said the time is not far when Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh will be a single entity once again.
In 2019, the Centre had abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
“The National Conference (NC) never sided with Pakistan…when tribal raiders were at our doors and Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah came rushing to my father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to seek his support, he decided to go with India,” Abdullah said.
“Sometimes youngsters tell me that my father had done wrong but I make it clear to them that oppression will end. We should be thankful that we did not go to Pakistan, where a former prime minister (Imran Khan) was fired upon in the recent past, the military is dictating terms and people have no power,” he said addressing a function here.
Referring to the 2019 development, the NC chief said that “we hope they will restore the statehood to Jammu and Kashmir without any further delay”.
“It (restoration of statehood) is imperative. It was unfortunate that our state was downgraded and divided. This time will also change. If you support us at the opportune time (at the time of elections), the time is not far when we will be together again as a single entity – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” he said.
Later talking to reporters, Abdullah launched a veiled attack on separatist-turned-mainstream politicians and said they made every attempt earlier to weaken the NC after getting money from Pakistan.
“Don’t they (central government) fund those who were earlier sided with Pakistan. I do not want to name them. They were the same people who were getting money from Pakistan and distributing it here to weaken the NC,” Abdullah said.
However, Abdullah said he will identify them when the time comes.
“The NC was their target because it was standing rock-solid with India and is still doing the same,” he said.
On the seizure of properties linked to proscribed Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) for terror funding, he said he has no information about it.
Appealing to people to remain cautious against attempts to divide them on the basis of religion, Abdullah said that “if we want to make our country strong, we have to stand together”.
“When elections are near, they will come to you and tell you that Hindus are in danger. India has a Hindu population of 70 to 80 per cent and do you think they will be in danger,” he said, adding deliberate attempts are being to create doubts in the minds of people for vested political interests.
He said the strength of India is unity in diversity and “we have to maintain this unity and strengthen it to make our country powerful”.
Stressing on the need for restoration of a democratically elected government in Jammu and Kashmir, the NC leader said bureaucratic rule is no alternative to a popular government.