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BJP leaders’ remarks on Article 370 tantamount to contempt of court: Omar Abdullah

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Srinagar: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said the Centre should wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on Article 370’s abrogation rather than “threatening” it, saying remarks by some BJP leaders over the sub-judice matter “almost tantamount” to contempt of court.

His comments came after Union minister Smriti Irani, while participating in the debate on the no-confidence motion against the central government in the Lok Sabha, said “Article 370 will never be restored”.

Abdullah said he feels surprised to hear such remarks from responsible BJP leaders.

“The issue is before the SC, let the SC take a decision. Why are they threatening the SC? A Union minister has made such remarks today in Parliament that they will never allow it to happen. We are waiting for the SC’s decision, they should also do it. Do they feel their case is so weak that they feel the need to threaten? It is regretful. It is almost tantamount to the contempt of court,” he said.

Asked if there is hope after arguments put forth by senior lawyer Kapil Sibal in the top court, Abdullah said while the arguments have been strong, the government has not replied so far.

“We have to see how strong the government’s reply is. Let the case move forward, then only we can discuss whose arguments were better. But, the NC’s decision to have Kapil Sibal and Gopal Subaramanium represent the two petitions by the party has been the best decision, and perhaps, we could not have presented our case any better than this. The rest is with the judges and God, but, we are hopeful,” he said.

“We wouldn’t have gone to the Supreme Court had there been no hope. We went to the SC because we have hope. At least we haven’t threatened the SC like the BJP,” Abdullah told reporters here.

The NC vice-president welcomed Chief Justice of India Justice D Y Chandrachud’s praise for his grandfather and NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, saying the contribution of ‘Sher-e-Kashmir’ — as Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was popularly known as — was in front of all of us.

“Unfortunately, in the last 30-35 years, attempts were made to distort his contribution. The BJP did not leave any stone unturned on it and tried to present his contribution in the wrong manner. It is good that the CJI gave such observations while sitting on a bench and we have welcomed that,” he said.

Asked about PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that the Article 370 case in the top court was a test of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s decision to accede to India, Omar Abdullah said it was rather a test of the Constitution.

“This is not the test of Sher-e-Kashmir’s decision but the test of the Constitution because the way Kapil Sibal has argued on the petition of the NC, and the way Gopal Subaramanium is arguing today, it is obvious that what happened with J&K was unconstitutional and illegal.

“We want the Constitution and the law to be upheld. It is not further a test than that. It is a test of the strength of the Constitution, that is all,” he added.

While mentioning Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in her speech in Parliament, Union minister Irani said, “I will not speak on joint pains…the valley that India has seen to be soaked in blood, (but) when they went there, they were playing with snow balls. That was possible after Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi abrogated Article 370.”

“He said he went on a yatra and gave assurance that they will restore Article 370…Article 370 will never be restored,” she asserted.

Asked about the party’s participation in the panchayat polls which are due later this year, Abdullah said while he has not seen any such notification, the NC will contest every election — be it the panchayat or ULB or Parliament or assembly polls.

“When the municipality elections are announced, we will contest. We have heard that they (BJP) are in no mood to conduct the municipality elections because they are afraid, more so in Jammu than in Srinagar. The way Congress has gained (strength) in Jammu, the BJP must have freaked out more. But, if the election is announced, the NC will participate in it eagerly,” he said.

The NC leader said his party is a member of the INDIA alliance of the opposition and will vote in the no-confidence motion in Parliament. (With inputs from PTI)


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