National Conference Vice President, Omar Abdullah said that his party would strive hard to reverse the decisions that were taken by the Centre on August 5 last year to effect changes in constitutional relationship between the erstwhile J&K state and the Union of India.
“There may be some people who are willing to compromise (thinking) that statehood is enough and they don’t want anything more. I have seen statements from political parties suggesting that as long statehood is restored, they won’t fight for more. National Conference is not that party,” said Omar, in an interview.
He said the National Conference has not put the issue of Article 370 on the backburner, but the party continues to treat it as a “pivotal issue”.
“Article 370 is an important issue as far as the NC is concerned. This attempt that is being made to hoodwink or confuse people that we will be satisfied with statehood is incorrect,” Omar said.
“We believe that the basis of what happened on August 5, 2019 is flawed and that is the case we have taken to the Supreme Court. I feel the petition filed by National Conference in the Supreme Court is very well drafted and a strong petition,” said Omar, the former chief minister, adding that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the petition on Article 370.
He said NC has a very strong case and he was “hopeful that Supreme Court will give us justice as we have no other avenues.”
“We attach a great faith in our own case (before the SC) and the strength of our case and in the wisdom of the apex court to see that what we are saying is both right in terms of law and constitution,” Omar said.
He said National Conference’s case in the court was that the Governor, a nominated representative of the Centre cannot take the powers of the Assembly and in turn claim that because there was no constituent Assembly, the Assembly will function like a constituent Assembly.
Omar said all the three generations of Abdullah family, from Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to him, have “felt sense of betrayal and let down as promises made were promises broken.”
“The common link between the three generations is that all three have been detained at the behest of the government of the day. The most draconian laws at the time have been used to keep us in custody,” Omar said.
To a question, Omar said if Article 370 was hollowed out to “such an extent that there was no relation between this Article and the people, then why is there a curfew today.”
“Why is there no 4G connectivity?” he asked. “Article 370 was not hollowed out in the last 70 years, but just weakened to a great extent.”
“Your state subject laws were linked to Article 370. Today, you have a domicile law that is in name only. It is so weak that it is of no consequence,” Omar said.
He said even symbols were important. “The fact that you were able to fly your own flag, it was symbolic of the special status that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed. A lot of substance still remained in Article 370 till it was abrogated,” Omar said.
Commenting on his release from detention, Omar said National Conference leaders strived hard for their release from detention by approaching the court of law.
“Unless you put up a strong fight against your detention, no one will do you favours,” he said.
He said National Conference had been talking about threat to J&Ks special status ever since BJP-PDP formed the alliance.
To a separate question about future course of mainstream politics in J&K, Omar said, “Forget mainstream politics, I don’t even know how much space is there now for moderate separatist politics in Kashmir now.”
He said considering the fact that there has been a “gulf between party leaders and ground level workers, there was no clarity on how much impact abrogation of Article 370 had made to the mood on the ground,”.
“I don’t know how much sentiment is hardened by what happened on August 5. I don’t know what response I would get once I travel to rural or interior areas to gauge the mood of people. It is fair to say that there has been a setback to mainstream political space in J&K,” Omar said.