Omar Abdullah to boycott elections as long as JK remains Union Territory

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah outside his house talking to reporters after being released from detention after eighty months on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR

Srinagar/July, 27 : Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday said the his party National Conference won’t contest elections for UT assembly in Jammu and Kashmir . In an article which he wrote on the opinion page of Indian Express Omar said “To this day, I fail to understand the need for this move [to make the state a Union Territory], except to punish and humiliate the people of the state,” Abdullah said in an article in The Indian Express.

Question the grant of UT status to Ladhak on religious lines Omar while pointing out that the majority population in Leh and Kargil is muslim the former Chief Minister of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state wrote “If the reason for carving out a separate Union Territory for Ladakh was the public demand among the Buddhist population of the area, then the demand for a separate state for the people of Jammu is a much older demand.”

Reminding that after the reelection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2019, speculation were rife that the special status of Jammu & Kashmir would be withdrawn Omar writes in his opinion page article “The people were treated to categorical denials by the occupant of the highest office in the state, the Governor, that JK’s special status faced no threat”

Reminding that that abrogation of special status was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for decades, and hence not surprising, Omar says that Modi government had “heaped humiliation” on Jammu and Kashmir by downgrading it and splitting it into two Union Territories. “Over the last seven decades, Union Territories have been upgraded to states, but this was the first time a state was downgraded to a Union Territory,” he write.

The National Conference leader said the reasons given to justify the end of special status for Jammu and Kashmir do not stand the test of scrutiny. Abdullah asked why the Centre had admitted in the Supreme Court nearly a year after the abrogation of special status, that violence in the Union Territory had been increasing, given that it had earlier claimed that Article 370 encouraged militancy in the Valley.

Contesting the incumbent central government’s claim that Article 370 was the cause of poverty in erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state Omar writes “Article 370 was alleged to have denied JK investment. Prior to the outbreak of militancy in the state, JK was amongst the most progressive states with a growing industrial base and impressive investment in manufacturing.” He claimed that situation in the Union Territory  has kept it from attracting more investment.

Saying that Jammu and Kashmir also compares favourably with many other Indian states, including Gujarat, on the human development index, Omar writes “Finally, it was suggested that Article 370 was always meant to be a temporary provision,” he said. “What they forget to add to this sentence is that it was temporary because of the little matter of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1947 of 1948,” adding that “the special constitutional status enjoyed by J&K was not a favour done to the state.” Touching upon the issue of accession of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state with the Union Of  India Omar writes “It formed the basis of the state’s accession to India…For Muslim-majority JK to accede and then fight alongside Indian forces to push back Pakistani invaders in 1947 was without parallel.”

Reiterating that the National Conference will continue to oppose the revocation of special status of the Union Territory,  in the Supreme Court and elsewhere also, Omar writes “as for me, I am very clear that while J&K remains a Union Territory I will not be contesting any Assembly elections”,adding that “Having been a member of the most empowered Assembly in the land and that, too, as the leader of that Assembly for six years, I simply cannot and will not be a member of a House that has been disempowered the way ours has.”

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