National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah met PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti at her residence in Srinagar on 14 October 2020 | ANI
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah met PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti at her residence in Srinagar | Photo: ANI
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Farooq Abdullah’s bizarre assertion that Article 370 should be restored in Kashmir with China’s help has only re-confirmed what the Bharatiya Janata Party has always believed: the Abdullahs were the biggest problem in Kashmir. The expectation that they could be a part of the solution was a cunning, conniving game the Congress party played for decades, resulting in mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in January 1990 and the three decades of brutal, radicalised insurgency that followed.

On 5 August 2019, when the Narendra Modi government revoked Article 370 and thereby 35A and divided Jammu and Kashmir into union territories, a crucial underlying motive became crystal clear: the BJP didn’t see the Abdullahs or the Muftis as stakeholders in Kashmir. In fact, our resolve is based on the sentiments of the average Kashmiri who has felt betrayed and brokered by both the families – more by the Abdullahs than the Muftis, given their longevity in J&K politics.

Considering that the Abdullahs have always used Kashmir’s special status as a weapon for infinite bargain and blackmail, ignoring the basic developmental needs of the state, they have rightly been eased out of the Valley politics after the legitimate revocation of the contentious articles.

Omar Abdullah has rightly smelt the coffee and chosen to stay away from state politics. Farooq, a sitting MP, in his abject frustration, has made some outrageous comments, for which he can easily be charged with sedition. But we would rather see him bite the dust in his Lok Sabha seat, that is, if he still wishes to contest. Chances are that he will not because he is aware of the changed political mood across Kashmir.


Also read: J&K parties hoodwinking people, they can’t bring back Article 370, ex-PDP leader Bukhari says


What led to the fall

What is it about the Abdullahs that has led to this irreversible decline? Did they overdo their double-game, while ignoring the genuine aspirations of the people of Kashmir? After all, flirting with India’s enemies is a high-risk game with a limited shelf life. It can’t be employed as a weapon all the time. Abdullahs did it ad nauseam over seven decades, aided by the Congress, leading to the weapon losing its potency.

The Abdullahs’ fascination with China is not new. Sheikh Abdullah went to Algiers in 1965, the year India and Pakistan went to war, and secretly met then-Chinese PM Zhou Enlai, three years after the India-China war. Sheikh was arrested upon his return for three years. This was Sheikh’s second stay in prison after spending about 11 years in the aftermath of the “Kashmir Conspiracy Case” since 1953.

Sheikh was brazen in his politics of using Pakistan to browbeat India. After the 1962 India-China war, he even saw hope in the northern neighbour. The Congress of the day was fully aware of Sheikh’s wily tactics. What was shocking, though, was not Sheikh’s repeated jail terms. It was that the same Congress would resurrect and reinstall him at the helm of affairs in J&K. Jawaharlal Nehru did that in 1963 before his death. Indira entered into an accord with Sheikh in 1975. On both occasions, the Congress could have dispensed with Sheikh Abdullah once and for all. Instead, it chose to play with fire.

After Sheikh Abdullah’s death in 1982, his naive and flamboyant son, Farooq Abdullah, took over as the chief minister of J&K as a matter of natural ascension.

To be fair to Farooq, though, when he took over, his politics was more mainstream than his father’s. He was more aligned to Kashmir’s future being with India than his father ever had been. This could have stemmed from his own ambitions of emerging as a Kashmiri Muslim national leader of India. But that was sufficient to rile an insecure Congress, which had, by then, become subservient to Indira Gandhi’s whims and fancies.

It was reflected in how Farooq’s majority government was dismissed in 1984 by then-governor Jagmohan because the lawmakers had switched sides, only for Farooq to resurrect two years later with the signing of another accord, this time with Rajiv Gandhi.


Also read: After 23 years in jail, freedom is a ‘different kind of prison’ for innocent Kashmiri man


Kashmir has moved past Abdullahs

This pact, as I had written in an article in 2018, shocked the people of Kashmir, resulting in  “a massive consolidation of fundamentalist Islamic forces in the Valley”. The Muslim United Front (MUF), an outcome of this consolidation, gave rise to many leaders who picked up arms against India. The uncertainty and chaos of 1987 was, therefore, to turn into armed militancy of the worst kind in the years to come.

What followed was the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1989, leading to the doomed and catastrophic night of 19 January 1990, when slogans of Azadi (freedom) rent the air. The scars of that night, left by the targeting of Kashmiri Pandits by the militants and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, remain unhealed to this date in many Kashmiri Pandit homes. Two days later, in a retaliatory action, about 50 unarmed Kashmiri Muslim protesters were shot dead by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on the Gaw Kadal Bridge.

Farooq Abdullah resigned immediately after the Gaw Kadal massacre, conveniently settled abroad and returned to active politics only when the democratic process was revived in the Valley in 1996.

In the early 1990s, Farooq had deserted Kashmir out of choice. This time around, the Abdullahs don’t have an option. Kashmir is no longer playing ball to them. It has moved way beyond the Abdullahs and the Muftis.

Tuhin Sinha @tuhins is a writer and a national media panelist of the BJP. Views are personal.

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35 Comments Share Your Views

35 COMMENTS

  1. It takes a few shots of Black Label and all of Girish Chandra ‘Gary’ Saxena’s diplomatic finesse to quieten Farooq Abdullah. Shekhar Gupta

  2. Let’s not forget that the Indian Govt under Indira and Rajiv could conclude an accord with Mizos represented by Laldenga, who was a militant,
    aided by Pak and China and who took shelter in Pak for some time. Wise statesmen can never give up the seek for an accord , provided the leaders have popular support. If Abdullahs turn out to have popular support next polls, the the BJP has to do business with them.

  3. The BJP needs to understand and see the Kashmir issue, but not through tinted glasses. Kashmir aligned with India because Shiekh understood secularity was important for Kashmiris. The Maharaja because his terms were not acceptable to Pakistan, and therefore can be read as leaving him no choice, with the attack by Razakars. Problem is we have treated Kashmir as ‘Real Estate’, we want it but without the Muslims.
    So we have enforced more rules and laws and accommodated theirs less. The Govt at the Centre has employed all means at its disposal– fair or foul, including large scale corruption. The last straw was manipulation of the election results in 1984 to hoist Farooq to govern. That broke the proverbial “Camel’s back” and Centre imposed draconian policing and used the bullet instead of talks, making it worse by the year, providing the ISI of Pak a ripe picking for non-state actors to run the show.
    We never made a serious attempt to assimilate the hearts and minds of the kashmiri, seeing them as muslims and Pak agents. Seriously no one seemed to understand the psychological healing was more crucial than brute force. Had we absorbed them into mainstream India and treated them as such, Art 370 would have become naturally redundant, it actually already was. It was a more of a political bargaining chip in distraught times for Kashmiris. We never realized it, its abrogation was like a declaration of war. Thereafter things have been downhill with escalated Pak involvement and now China, using it as an excuse to violate the LoC.
    The way things are moving Kashmir situation is not improving on top of that Chinese have hived off territory in Ladakh and wanting more.
    The Govt gave Farooq Abdulla a political heft, which he and the other national J&K parties are now leveraging; matters are made worse by the adverse global attention on Human Rights.
    Don’t blame it on anyone else but ourselves for the inept political bungling. All issues need to be thought through and debated, involving the local citizenry; particularly a sensitive issue like Kashmir.
    Kashmiri bashing is not a solution, only adds to the problem. The Govt needs to go back to the drawing board and apply their mind logically not emotionally influenced by Hindutva vendetta.

  4. @Rajiv Shorey your response reeks of affect and is incredibly distasteful, barely masking the implication that Muslims and Kashmiris live in India at the ‘behest’ or out of the ‘good nature’ of Hindus. You don’t even bother hiding your call for genocide, which I frankly find disgusting. Lest you need to be reminded, Muslims have as much of a right to live in India as anyone else does, and that is a fact that is enshrined in our constitution. This country was founded in opposition to the religious state that our neighbour is, but your desire seems to be to go against this very foundation. What makes tu any different from separatists except the size of the land you claim?

  5. India has a powerful army and army judicial system. Both these families need to be re arrested on appropriate charges .

    You cannot allow the destiny of 5 river sources be in hands of traitors

    Kashmir is India , case closed

  6. Like I tell my children: you get the papers of ownership of the house after you have paid mortgage notes for seventy years. (What did you think, India just pays all your bills and you give the middle finger in return?)

  7. It is interesting to know past deeds of Sheikh Abdullah with China. The son knows that all is lost for the family and is gone wild. Whatever they want to do under constitutional norms, it is fine and should be dealt with accordingly.

  8. let us see how the cookie crumbles – as the Late K Kamaraj would say – Parkalam [ wait and see ].

    For the sake of possible objectivity, perhaps the dislodged political guys there could also be asked to join in this debate ?

    • What debate? Indian govt. under provincial Kashmiri promised them sky at expense of rest of India. Now Indian govt. under non-Kashmiri took away that nonsense. Kashmir is no different from Hyderabad or Baroda. The difference is prime minister was not Telugu.

  9. It’s not what you n I say, that matters.That is wishful thinking.To know the actual situation in the valley, we need to know what the Kashmirs have to say.

    • Kashmir was decided in 1947 according to “Independence od India act – 1947” passed by British Parliament. If, anyone says that that act is not applicable to Kashmir, then, entity Pakistan is illegal and Hindu India take it over.

  10. Maybe India should treat them like China does it’s muslim seperatist minority ? May be then he will understand how infinitely tolerant India and Hindus have been to seperatist muslims.

  11. It is visible how opportunistic these Abdullah and Muftis are. Their lifeline is keeping J&k in permanent trouble. They exploit the democratic frabric of India. So it is wise for the government to treat them the way they deserve.

  12. The Abdullas are currently irrelevant because the people of Kashmir see no good in them. Farooq’s comments re China are outrageous. But it is no good crowing over the downfall of the Abdullas …. the point is do the Kashmiris feel a part of India? Have governance, security and welfare improved? Are there other Kashmiri leaders capable of successfully contesting elections and providing good government to the state – one day elections must be held, the current situation cannot be a permanent one. If not then the political vaccum will continue and the Abdullas and their ilk may well come back into public favour some day. The Abdullas do not matter, but Kashmiris do.

  13. The Governor who dismissed Farooq Abdullah’s govt at Indira Gandhi’s behest was Ramlal, not Jagmohan. Ramlal was earlier a CM of HP

  14. Neither J&K part of India nor Maharaja Hari Sing was recognised King of J&K.
    And Pakistan Also was not part of war in 1947.
    It was civil war against Dogras. Who buying and selling the name of J&K while sitting in Dehli.
    It was totally fabricated history between two countries. While Kashmiri fighting for theirs rights.

  15. I think, as a news press, print shall publish all kind of articles which is the point of democracy. Kudos. We should see both sides of the coin. This is only an opinion and not a verdict.

  16. You lock up these political leaders without a crime being committed for 8 months and without any regard to democratic norms or human rights.
    You act extra constitutionally to remove a constitutional right during a time when the state is under central rule.
    The courts abdicate their responsibility to uphold the human rights of the jailed leaders or stopping making the violation of the constitution.
    It was of utmost importance for the courts to stop this trampling of justice to ensure the dignity of India was maintained across the world.

    How can we expect the people to be positive for India after humiliating them like this. Beats me.

    • All these steps are necessary to correct problem created by Nehru. Kashmir was a princely state like Baroda or Hyderabad. So what was the need for talking of referendum or article 370? It is same monkey like behavior of Nehru of recognizing communist China without securing Tibet Independence, when there was no need. Rest of world except Communist countries had not recognized Communist government.

      British had secured India by ensuring buffer states between India and other major countries. Nehru gave away that advantage with his monkey like thinking.

    • Perhaps thinking isnt too good a thing in these times – those who werent around when India became free can have no understanding of what the world scenario was then and what India’s place as a new nation just free from colonialism after millenia was. We are eternally blessed here on with those with 30: 20 vision in hindsight. Long may their tilting at windmills last !

      • Problem was Indian leader & his advisors at that time were under-classed for the task they had.. They did not understand that politics changes by days, if not hours. Yesterday’s friends may be today’s enemies and vice versa. So they were blind sided by their nonsense of fighting against Imperialism and did not realized that Muslims & Chinese pose bigger threat than so called Imperialists. After all we don’t see too many Brits in India.

        They did not understand the British saying; ‘Britain does not have permanent friends, however it has permanent interest.”
        if Biden wins US election India might have to reorient from Quad to Indo- Russian alliance., as Biden is more pro-China & anti- Russia.

  17. At the end of the day articles like this doesn’t matter.

    The leaders of the people of Kashmir convening to discuss the situation after a year and a half of house arrest is a crime or what?

    The Print shouldn’t allow jokers in politics to write substandard articles

  18. Must congratulate PRINT for giving prominent space to this article. A castrated bull may have some nuisance value but has no reproductive capacity, besides the process the bull is put through is irreversible.
    The abolition of the two articles takes away the possibility of law and order(Police) ever going out of the hands of the center. The ill gotten wealth and the facilities showered upon themselves under 370 & 35A will not only disappear but will probably come under the legal scrutiny, with unlikely support from the known legal eagles things may not be that easy.
    The call for Chinese support for restoration of the 370 & 35A is as stupid as it can get. Only the slogans and sound bites are also unlikely to ensure funding from across the border so how can the ( low level Mercenaries) stone throwers be sustained. The free for all cross border trade now has limitations, hawala and the funding via Gulf has also become risky.

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