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Omar attacks BJP for deferring polls; says it is not ready to face voters

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Jammu: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Monday attacked the BJP, alleging that the “delay” in assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir is because they are not brave enough to face voters as they have failed to mitigate people’s problems.

The former chief minister, without naming the ruling party at the Centre, said they have also not been able to keep their promise of bringing large-scale investments and creating job opportunities in the Union Territory.

“They are not ready to face the people and are escaping from (assembly) elections on one pretext or the other. They used the pretext of delimitation of constituencies and revision of electoral rolls which stands completed long back. They talked about the weather not being conducive but have no justification to further delay the polls,” he said in a veiled attack on the BJP.

The National Conference (NC) vice-president was addressing a public meeting at Bajalta in Nagrota constituency – his first in the city after the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and its bifurcation into two union territories in 2019.

Wearing a white turban, Abdullah said the weather is getting pleasant, they have only two reasons for delaying the polls further — one could be the worsening security situation which they claim has improved, and the second being that they are afraid to face the voters.

“If they had been brave, they would have gone for the elections. After today’s public rally, some people (among the BJP) who were supportive of early elections will also feel jittery,” he said in an apparent reference to former legislator Devender Singh Rana, who resigned from the post of NC provincial president and joined the BJP in October 2021.

Abdullah said the public meeting has proved beyond any doubt that the NC is alive both in Kashmir and the Jammu province.

“People come and go but those who have love for the organisation and are not linked to any particular individual will stay back because they are with the party’s principles, flag and agenda,” he said.

The NC will show its real strength during the assembly elections, Abdullah asserted.

“They will try to polarise the situation as they are doing elsewhere in the country. We have to frustrate their attempts by standing united,” he said.

The former chief minister said for the first time he is witnessing a government which “feels happiness in inflicting difficulties on the people. It will be better to get rid of this government as soon as possible”.

“They are only engaged in propaganda, drama and showoff… Sometime back, we heard of an outside company making an investment in Srinagar but it proved much ado about nothing,” the NC leader said referring to the Emaar group of United Arab Emirates laying the foundation of a mega mall project worth Rs 500 crore on Sunday.

He said his party was accused of being an obstacle in the path of development and job creation, and asked what happened over the past three years. “There is no new project, and recruitment for government jobs was cancelled owing to scams,” Abdullah said.

Those who celebrated the abrogation of Article 370 in Ladakh and Jammu are equally sad, he claimed.

“We were angry from day one but there were some people who celebrated it with a hope of ‘New J&K’. The people in Jammu suffered economically because of the stopping of the darbar move and anti-encroachment drive, while Leh people are openly expressing that they were happy to be part of J&K,” the NC leader said.

The erstwhile state was divided into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh with Lt Governor-led administrations.

Abdullah also took a dig at the administration over an alleged imposter, Kiran Patel, who was arrested in Srinagar early this month and said “the deserving are not getting their rights but the frauds are getting benefited”.

“Instead of finding the reality of Patel before treating him as a VIP, they bowed before him. My colleagues who faced (terror) attacks were not given an escort, he (Patel) was given adequate security, five-star accommodation and taken to LoC with many officers lined up to seek recommendations for transfer and promotions,” he said.

He said nobody can deny the differences between Kashmir and Jammu as far as weather and culture is concerned but what “we witness today is that both the regions are having common sufferings, people are annoyed and gripped by despondency”.

Referring to anti-encroachment drives in the Union Territory, Abdullah said he was surprised to see the pictures when they took out a bulldozer rally in Kashmir to frighten the public. “When people protested and the situation became tense, the bulldozer drive was stopped at the behest of Delhi,” he claimed.

He also talked about the imposition of property tax and said “they are saying only a handful of income will be generated but if that is the case, then what is the need for imposing the tax to harass the public”. (With inputs from PTI)

‘No terrorist given govt job, won’t support policy of punishing their kin’

No terrorist was given government jobs by the previous Jammu and Kashmir dispensation, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said Monday, asserting that his party would not support any policy to punish relatives of terrorists as it is against natural justice.

Interacting with reporters after addressing a public rally — his first in the city after the abrogation of Article 370 — Omar Abdullah also raised the issue of “misuse of police against the civilian population”.

“No terrorist was given a (government) job but we did not punish people because they were relatives of terrorists. Is it fair for me to punish you for the crime committed by your father or a son? Tomorrow, if God forbid a close relative of (Lt Governor) Manoj Sinha Sahab commits a crime, should he be sent to jail?” the former chief minister said.

He was responding to a question on Sinha’s recent allegations that “previous governments in Jammu and Kashmir provided jobs to terrorists and their families and facilitated one lakh backdoor appointments”.

“Natural justice is not that relatives are punished for the crimes of someone else. Nobody is advocating that hardcore militants should be given government jobs but it is also wrong to punish somebody just because they have the misfortune of being related to a terrorist,” he said.

“This is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the people. This is not something we will ever support.”

On Sinha’s statement that 47 employees were dismissed for anti-national activities, Omar Abdullah said, “I am not going into a war of words… If for lakhs of appointments, all you can find is a list of 47 then that is next to nothing.”

Accusing the Jammu and Kashmir administration of playing with the future of job aspirants by engaging a tainted company to conduct recruitment examinations, he said, “We want an inquiry how APTECH, which is blacklisted across the country, was given a contract and where the scams had taken place.”

“We heard the contract was cancelled but the youth are still not happy. You (LG) need to reassure the youth,” the former chief minister said, alleging that the Jammu and Kashmir administration is not making any attempt to resolve the issues of the people.

About reports that the administration is going to conduct CID verification of all contractors, Omar said he had no such knowledge.

However, he alleged that this administration likes to misuse the police. “Blacklisted companies are brought here but honest and efficient contractors are subjected to harassment. Attempts should be made to give contracts to those who are honest and who can work without giving or taking a commission. The extraordinary use of police against civilians is bad,” Omar Abdullah said.

Omar Abdullah also came in defence of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his “women are still being sexually assaulted” remark, saying he did not say anything wrong and there is nothing unusual in his statement.

“Is this not a fact that sexual violence is prevalent in India? Do we need Rahul Gandhi to tell us that? Open any newspaper, do we not hear cases of rape so what did Rahul Gandhi say that is so unusual,” he told reporters here.

The National Conference (NC) leader was responding to a question about a Delhi Police team reaching Gandhi’s residence on Sunday to inquire about his “women are still being sexually assaulted” statement made during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Police had earlier issued a notice with a questionnaire to Gandhi seeking details of victims who approached him about sexual harassment as they want to initiate a probe into the matter.

“He (Gandhi) did not say anything (on sexual violence) specific to Kashmir. He himself told me during the course of his foot march (Bharat Jodo Yatra) that women came up to him at numerous places and complained that they have been victims of sexual violence,” Abdullah said.

The NC leader said, “Is India rape free country? Is India free of sexual violence? We know sexual violence takes place so why is government apologetic about it. What they need to do is to find those guilty (of sexual violence) and punish them. Rahul Gandhi did not say anything wrong.”



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