Won’t contest election when J&K is an UT: Omar Abdullah

NC leader who was released from detention in March writes about meeting PM days before abrogation of Article 370, and why the Centre’s defence in its favour is baseless

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has said that he will not contest any election as long as Jammu and Kashmir remains a Union Territory. Making his point in an article published in the Indian Express on Monday (July 27), he said the party will oppose the abrogation of Article 370 and fight the matter in the Supreme Court.

Omar’s write-up comes a day after his father and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah hoped the Supreme Court will strike down the repeal of Article 370 by the central government.

“As for me, I am very clear that while J&K remains a Union Territory I will not be contesting any Assembly elections. 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,” Omar wrote.


He was among the many Kashmir leaders including his father Farooq Abduallah and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who were placed in house arrest or detained, when the central government abrogated Article 370 and split the state into two Union territories. Omar was later charged under the draconian PSA. He was released from Hari Niwas (where he spent eight months of detention) in March this year after the government revoked his detention order.

Reminiscing the days before the “tectonic changes of August 5, 2019,” Omar wrote that the senior office bearers of NC who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi just days before August 5, had no idea of the looming abrogation of Article 370, although they knew it was on the BJP’s agenda for long.

“It’s not a meeting I will forget in a hurry. One day I may write about it, but propriety precludes me from saying more than that we left the meeting with a completely different impression about what was going to unfold in the next 72 hours,” he wrote.

Stating that he still fails to understand the need behind the move, Omar in the editorial counters the Centre’s defence that it was done to carve out a separate Union Territory for Ladakh as per the demand of the Buddhist population of the area.

“…then the demand was conceded on religious grounds, then it ignored the fact that Leh and Kargil districts, which together make up the Union Territory of Ladakh, are Muslim majority and the people of Kargil are vehemently opposed to the idea of being separated from J&K,” he wrote.

Omar demanded to know why the Centre which advocated the dilution of Article 370 to quell separatism and thus militant activities in the valley, has been unable to achieve the same even though a year has passed.

“Even the Supreme Court, as recently as 2018, has held that Article 370 ‘had acquired a permanent status by virtue of its years of existence making its abrogation impossible.’ Anyway if you wish to look at it, other than the political justification of an election promise being fulfilled, there is no constitutional, legal, economic or security justification for what was done to J&K on August 5, 2019. This is what forms the basis of the National Conference’s case in the Supreme Court,” he wrote.

Stating that the NC is yet to decide its next political course of action at a time several of its leaders are still under detention, Abdullah said he will work towards strengthening the party and carry forward its agenda.


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