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Fiddling with J&K's special status will have serious consequences: Omar

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                       Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Feb 25: Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on Article 35-A, National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Monday said any fiddling with Jammu and Kashmir's special status would have serious and far-reaching consequences in the state.

Addressing party functionaries, workers and delegates at the NC headquarters here, the former chief minister warned that the situation in the state would become much worse than the one in Arunachal Pradesh if the  rights under Article 35-A and Article 370 of the Constitution were fiddled with.

"They threaten us every day with (Article) 35-A. I want to tell the Centre that see the situation in Arunachal Pradesh, where there is no militancy, no stone-pelting. A peaceful state like Arunachal Pradesh is also up in flames. The people there have hit the roads in order to save their permanent resident status.

"That I believe should act as an eye-opener for those who are inimical to Article 370, Article 35-A. Any misadventure in fiddling with the state's special status will unarguably have serious and far-reaching consequences in Jammu and Kashmir. The situation will be worse than what it is in Arunachal Pradesh," Abdullah said.

He added that it was his duty to warn New Delhi about the consequences of any tampering with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

"I am not threatening, it is my duty to warn you, the rest is your will. As a responsible citizen, it is my duty to tell Delhi that your thinking is not right," the NC leader said.

He added that the Centre and the Governor S P Malik-led administration in the state should leave the defence of Article 370 and Article 35-A to a new, popular government elected after the Assembly polls.

"Leave it to us. Whether the Centre or the Governor's administration, their only responsibility now is to create a conducive atmosphere and conduct the (Assembly) election. After the polls, whatever the decision of the people of the state, it should be left to them to tackle (Article) 35-A. We know the situation here better, so please do not get into this. Conduct the polls and the new government will work towards saving Article 35-A itself," Abdullah said.

Referring to the reports of emergence of a ‘third front’ in Kashmir, he said it was being "manufactured to split up" the people's mandate in the Valley.

"A third front is being contrived to ensure that a single party with a strong mandate does not emerge from Kashmir valley. The idea behind forging a third front is to ensure that the mandate of the people of Kashmir is split. However, this trend is not seen in the Ladakh or Jammu regions of our state. Why is it that such trends only emerge in the valley?

"The forces that are hell-bent to destroy the special status of our state have been contriving to prop up leaders in every street of Kashmir. However, by forging unity and rallying round the flag of the NC, we can trounce such forces," Abdullah said.

Omar Abdullah also said holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be a test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of Kashmir over the last five years.

"Will the Modi government bow before those forces of separatism & terror that have always sought to disrupt/delay polls in J&K or will polls take place on schedule? The moment of truth for PM Modi's handling of Kashmir over the last 5 years," Abdullah wrote on his Twitter handle while reacting to media reports that the Election Commission of India will take a call on holding Assembly polls together with the Lok Sabha election after a visit to the state this week.

Abdullah said except for an odd by-election, all elections in Jammu and Kashmir since 1995-96 have been held as per schedule.

"Will PM Modi be able to keep to this schedule or will he accept he's totally mishandled J&K? The next few days will give us the answer," he added.

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