Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and president of opposition National Conference (NC), Farooq Abdullah, on Friday criticised the National Investigating Agency (NIA) which has conducted a series of raids across the state with an arrest of a dozen people. The arrested included some prominent separatists over past few weeks.
Mr Abdullah said, “I will acknowledge the NIA raids only if they bring any consequences. If they are being conducted to threaten people then I would like to tell the Centre and the NIA that no matter how much they torture us, nobody will bow down before you.” He alleged that the raids by the NIA won’t yield anything as “these exercises are only aimed at defaming and creating a turbulent situation in Kashmir.”
Also, he demanded the immediate release of all separatist leaders including those placed under house arrest ahead of union home minister, Rajnath Singh’s, three-day visit to the state beginning on Saturday.
“They should be set free so that they tell the home minister what they want to,” he added.
The home minister on Friday said, “I personally want that we talk to everyone. So whoever comes to meet me, I will talk to them.”
He also said that the government had all intentions to solve the Kashmir issue.
Earlier while speaking to a gathering beside the mausoleum of his father and legendary Kashmiri leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah at Naseem Bagh to commemorate his 35th death anniversary, the NC president said the “assault” on the state’s special status was a challenge.
“The assault on Article 35A is an assault on our soul and our identity and we should all unite to defend our honour. The powers that be are using myths and distortions to support their long-cherished goal of weakening J&K from within but in the end the truth always prevails,” he said.
He claimed that the NC’s outreach and awareness programme on the issue is being met with overwhelming response in Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region of the state and that “this is a proof of our unity in standing up for our rights as one state and one people irrespective of our religion, region, caste or creed”.
Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah who is the NC’s working president paid glowing tributes to the Sheikh and said that his struggle to defend the State’s political identity was ongoing in the face of recent challenges, which, they said, have to overcome by its people as one entity. “Sher-e-Kashmir spent his life struggling for all of us and for our political aspirations and rights. Today as we commemorate his 35th death anniversary, we are confronted with a new assault on the State’s special status both from within Jammu and Kashmir and from outside the State,” the senior Abdullah said.
Omar Abdullah, in an obvious reference to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples’ Democratic Party, said, “Those who have always dreamt of weakening our special status are now in an alliance with a party from within our state”. He said that the best tribute to the Sheikh would be to fight against these forces with full political might and “ensure their evil goals are nipped in the bud”.