Just before the government ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave no indication of the move during a meeting, Farooq Abdullah said today. “Nobody can trust the government of India anymore. There is not a day when they don’t lie,” said the National Conference MP in his first interview since his release from detention earlier this year.
“This is not Gandhi’s India.”
Farooq Abdullah said he had met with PM Modi a day before a huge number of troops moved in, one of the many signs of something big afoot.
“It just came out of the blue. I had met the PM a day before, he had given us no indication. I told him so many troops had been moved in, what was the need? Tourists were being pushed out, the (Amarnath) yatra had been cancelled. All this was strange… as if it was war with Pakistan or something,” Farooq Abdullah said.
“When we asked the PM, he didn’t say anything. But he said other things that I don’t think I should say anything at this point. He was absolutely kind and nice and unbelievable.”
The veteran politician, asked what he would like to say to the PM today, said: “I would humbly request PM to be more honest and really face the facts. He knows what he did was not right.”
No one can trust government of India, Mr Abdullah raged. “It is impossible to… There’s not a day they don’t lie.”
Mr Abdullah, 83, was released in March after over seven months in custody under the Public Safety Act or PSA, a stringent law that allows detention without trial. He was detained along with several leaders including his son Omar Abdullah and PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti on August 5 last year, when the government ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and imposed massive security restrictions and a communication lockdown.
The senior politician made a startling claim as he was asked why, despite his talk about anger among the people of Kashmir, there was largely silence on the streets.
“Well, because we, when we had the required declaration, we told the people, for god’s sake, don’t get killed. They had decided to kill nearly over 10,000 people. We were not wanting to get our people killed,” Mr Abdullah said, adding that the coronavirus lockdown was another reason for deserted streets.
The comment appears to reference to remarks made by Satyapal Malik, who was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir when Article 370 was abrogated. After being transferred to Goa, he had said: “I can safely say today that when the topic of revoking Article 370 came up, I informed my Chief Secretary (BVR Subrahmanyam) on the evening of 4 August that tomorrow Article 370 will be revoked, he responded, ‘Sir, we will have to kill 1,000 people’,” Mr Malik said.
Mr Abdullah described his first feelings on learning of the mega Article 370 decision was “wonderstruck”. He said: “Anybody who is here was wonderstruck. It was only when I was closed in and informed by my police that I can’t go out (that I realized).”
Recalling his emotional outburst in an interview to NDTV after the government claimed in parliament that he was not in detention, he said: “This was strange. We stood with the nation; this was something I never expected would happen to us. We were no different from separatists we hear.”
On the perceived lack of public sympathy after his arrest, Mr Abdullah remarked: “Because we stood with the nation and many people fear, feel that the nation is not the one we should stand with. That’s the truth. If you go with India, this is what’s going to happen.”
The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said he “had to beg” to go to a dentist and to go to the hospital for an eye problem.
“My phones were cut, the only thing I had was TV. Being an MP, I was supposed to have a phone. I wanted to speak to my daughter in England but I couldn’t talk to her,” Mr Abdullah said.
“Delegations were stopped from coming here. They got puppets from EU, from US to go around Dal Lake, have their Goshtaba and claim everything is hunky dory.”