Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, under arrest for six months, did not say that scrapping the erstwhile state’s special status would “bring an earthquake that would separate it from India”, his party said on Thursday, bluntly denying a statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliament.
“Mehbooba Mufti said ‘India has cheated Kashmir. It seems we picked the wrong side in 1947’. Omar Abdullah had said ‘Removing Article 370 would bring an earthquake that will separate Kashmir from India’. Farooq Abdullah said ‘if Article 370 is removed, there will be no one in the valley to unfurl the Indian flag’. Can any person devoted to the Indian constitution ever accept this?” PM Modi said in parliament.
He attacked the three former chief ministers, who are among several politicians under detention since August when the central government scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and divided it into two union territories, over their criticism of the move.
However, the National Conference (NC) denied the statement that PM Modi attributed to its leader Omar Abdullah. “Omar Abdullah made no such statement,” National Conference spokesperson Imran Dar told NDTV.
“Every statement of Omar Abdullah is in the public domain and he has not made any such statement,” Mr Dar added.
Omar Abdullah has been under detention since the central government announced the changes to Jammu and Kashmir’s status in August and enforced a severe security clampdown and communications blockade. On Thursday, charges under the tough Public Safety Act – which allows for arrest without trial for three months – were brought against him and Ms Mufti.
The statement that PM Modi quoted appeared to be from a satire website FakingNews.com.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday, the Prime Minister blamed Mr Abdullah, his father and Mehbooba Mufti – three of the most prominent mainstream politicians from the region – for the growth of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits in 1990.
“Who made Kashmir only about land grabbing? Who made Kashmir’s identity only about bombs and guns? Can anyone forget that dark night of January? In reality, Kashmiri identity is closely linked with harmony,” he said replying to a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in Lok Sabha.