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Voted to power, NC will strive to restore 'President', 'PM' posts: Omar

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Promises restoration of terms of accession of J-K, says will revoke PSA if voted to power

Srinagar, Apr 01: National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah Monday said his party will strive for restoring the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir that could include having a 'Sadar-e-Riyasat' (President) and 'Wazir-e-Azam' (Prime Minister).

Addressing a rally at Bandipore in north Kashmir, the former chief minister said his party will not allow any attacks on J&K's special status and will work to get back what was "infringed upon" including the coveted posts of ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat' (president) and 'Wazir-e-Azam' (prime minister) for the state.

The Governor and Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, after joining the Union of India in 1947, were called as "Sadar-e-Riyasat" and "Wazir-e-Azam" until March 1965.

The NC has always advocated restoration of autonomy for the state and had passed a resolution for the same in July 2000 in the State Assembly. It was, however, not agreed to by the then BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.

Asserting that NC would not allow any attacks on Jammu and Kashmir's special status, Omar Abdullah said the party would seek restoration of terms of accession of the state.

He said Jammu and Kashmir's accession with the Union of India was accomplished in lieu of various constitutional safeguards for the state and if these are tampered with, the entire scheme of accession will be under question.

"We are not like any another state of India. Every other state got merged with the Union of India. We joined our hands with the Union on certain conditions unlike other states of India. Does any other state in India have its own flag and constitution? Our handshake with Indian Union was subject to certain conditions," he said.

Omar Abdullah said after 70 years, forces as are inimical to the state's special status, were trying to backtrack from the conditions.

"The move will also initiate debate on the fundamentals of accession, there is no second thought about it. It takes two hands to clap," he said.

He said after the "unconstitutional arrest" of NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1953, the state's special position was "unremittingly tampered with to the extent that now it is a pale shadow of what we had achieved from New Delhi".

"But, we will fight any attempt that is aimed to fiddle with our state's status. We won't allow anymore assaults on our special status. On the contrary, we will strive to get back what was infringed upon. We will work towards getting back the coveted posts of 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' and prime minister for our state," the NC vice-president said.

Rebuffing a reported statement of BJP president Amit Shah against Article 35-A, Omar Abdullah said no one knew about Article 35-A until he raised it in the Assembly.

"I inquired from the then chief minister about the efforts that were being made by the state government to defend it in the Supreme Court. Only then it came into the realm of debate. In 1947, certain assurances were given to us in the form of securing our identity and the assurances were for all times. Before Shah, Arun Jaitley also had made some uncouth remarks on Article 35-A.

"Let me put it across, that we won't allow that to happen. Article 370 and Article 35-A are the articles of faith for us," he said.

The former chief minister while referring to the issues faced by the youth of the state said he was alive to the problems the youth of the state were facing due to the serving SRO-202 job policy of the state government in which a candidate is appointed on probation for a period of five years at a monthly salary of Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000.

"Regrettably, the youth of our state are made to work full in lieu of paltry remuneration. During my tenure, I had done away with the SRO-202. I repented for my mistake, but I don't know what caused the former PDP-BJP government to get it back. I assure you once in power we will do away with SRO-202," he said.

Omar Abdullah also reiterated that if the party was elected to power in the state, it would revoke the Public Safety Act (PSA).

"I have also undertaken to obliterate PSA from the state. During our government the law was mellowed down, nonetheless I assure you once in power the PSA will obliterate from the papers.

"I don't backtrack from this undertaking of mine on the abolition of PSA. If the NC is voted to power with a strong mandate, the law will go. We are not PDP which promised to dissolve task force (special operations group of J-K Police), but ended up just changing the nomenclature of it, this is not what I am I going to do. Once in power, the PSA shall become a thing of past," he said.

He sought a strong verdict in favour of Mohammad Akbar Lone, the party candidate from Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency .

"I urge you to send Lone with a huge winning margin to the parliament. He has the necessary political wisdom and legal acumen to work for the interests of the state both inside and outside the parliament," the NC vice-president said.

Later in the day, Omar Abdullah tweeted, "My party has always stood for the restoration of the terms of accession which Maharaja Hari Singh negotiated for J&K in 1947 & we have done so unashamedly."

Before March 30, 1965, the office of Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir was known as the Prime Minister's office.

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