Omar Abdullah speaks to Gulf News 20190222
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, left, during an interview with Gulf News Image Credit: Gulf News

Srinagar: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party’s strategy of using the deadly Pulwama bombing for their own political gain is the biggest disservice to the nation, Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and vice president of the National Conference, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview in Srinagar. “The prime minister and his party men are using the tragedy of Pulwama in which more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed to promote their own political agenda. It is the biggest disservice they are doing to the nation,” he said.

Condemning the Pulwama attack in strong words, Omar reiterated the call to end violence in Jammu and Kashmir. “Jammu and Kashmir has been at the receiving end of violence of this nature for nearly three decades now. Entire generations of people have been born and brought up in the shadow of gun,” the former chief minister said.

“I want to repeat what was mentioned by the governments of India and Saudi Arabia in the joint statement yesterday. Conditions must be created that are conducive for resumption of comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan so that all matters, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, are resolved.”

Omar acknowledged that Kashmir is going through a fresh spell of violence but he firmly put the blame on the previous state government and the central government in Delhi. “This new strain of violence is because of complete mishandling of the situation following the summer of 2016 (in the aftermath of Burhan Wani killing). Both the state government and the top political leadership in Delhi showed no remorse for mishandling the situation.

Taking advantage

Talking about the atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the country post Pulwama attack and targeting of Kashmiri students and businessmen in parts of India, the National Conference leader pointed an accusatory finger at the Sangh Parivar (amalgamation of Hindu nationalist organisation). “It is no secret that Bajrang Dal and the students wing of the Sangh were foremost in fomenting trouble against Kashmiri students in various parts of India. This was done keeping in mind the upcoming general elections,” Omar said.

The former chief minister reckons that the BJP, worried about Modi’s failures since 2014, found it convenient to exploit the Pulwama suicide attack. “It is fairly obvious that the BJP sees an advantage in this kind of environment. It helps them paper over Modi’s various mistakes like demonitisation, joblessness, India’s poor economic growth and the distress faced by the country’s agriculture sector.”

Accusing the BJP of trying to push their dangerous agenda on Article 370 (an article drafted in Part XXI of Indian constitution that gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir) in the wake of the Kashmir bombing, Omar said. “They are making a clamour as if Article 370 is the cause for violence in J&K. The state’s special status has been part of the Indian constitution since 1947. Let us not forget that militancy started in the valley only in 1990. BJP must explain how militancy and Article 370 are connected.”