Message From Farooq Abdullah From Srinagar
Under house arrest
“This is not the Hindustan I have seen, I have never seen this Hindustan. This was everyone’s Hindustan before regardless of religion, we were united.”
“We have been with you through thick and thin I hope you will be with us through thick and thin. And pray for the return of democracy and the return of secularism in the country.”
It was an emotional and visibly agonised Farooq Abdullah who appeared before the media today in Srinagar, giving short interviews and breaking down in the process. He was detained at his residence in Srinagar, and managed to get out only today after Home Minister Amit Shah claimed in Parliament that he had not been detained. “I told the security men that they cannot stop me, as the Home Minister had said I was not detained,” Abdullah told NDTV, “although he was lying when he said I was not placed under house arrest.”
Reporters confirmed that they had not been allowed to meet him the evening before by the security around his house. Abdullah said that he had met his son former CM Omar Abdullah briefly at night before he was formally arrested and taken to jail.
Kashmir remains cut off from the world with 43,000 troops in the Valley.
As former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Minister the 81 year old leader of the National Conference has seen it all. He was toppled by New Delhi when he first came to power in Srinagar, and replaced by his brother in law GM Shah. This was one of the triggers of militancy that engulfed the state, bringing in a dark era. Farooq Abdullah fought it through and despite his image of being non-serious with some even describing him as a playboy in his younger days, has been the one constant and consistent politician of the state. Consistent in supporting New Delhi, swearing by the Constitution of India, and leading the charge against Pakistan and its politics whenever required.
A charismatic and bold personality he appeared broken today, picking up his shoulders briefly in the interview to NDTV to say that “we will fight for democracy and for unity.”
His response should worry any government that wants peace and calm, and realises that force can at best be a temporary response. He was perhaps the most assertive politician from the Valley about his support for India regardless of pressures that he came under from time to time. That he sees the current move by the central government as a “betrayal” and speaks of a “fight till the logical end for a united and secular India” is a message in itself.
“For 70 years we have fought the battle with the nation and today we are supposed to be the culprits”, Abdullah said. Asked how he was feeling he said, “how do you feel when you see your body being carved into pieces. How do you think we feel when we are being betrayed. Are they going to divide peoples hearts also. Is this my India? “ he said almost choking with tears.
The deep sense of betrayal that he spoke of was laced with anger. Anger at being let down by the government and as he said the assurance of a special status and of Articles 35A and 370 came from the government of India, not from the ordinary people. He said that “we will fight, fight for a democracy, we will fight for unity because unity gives us strength.”
As he asked then, “what will the common person be going through?”