SRINAGAR: The opposition National Conference (NC) on Sunday re-elected Farooq Abdullah as party president and passed a resolution calling for restoration of autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir in its pristine form.
The NC held delegates' conference at Sheri Kashmir cricket stadium, here today. The delegates conference was held after a gap of 15 years. The last such conference was held in 2002.
The conference unanimously re-elected Farooq Abdullah, who is MP from Srinagar, as president of the party.
Announcing party’s decision, Farooq’s son and former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Farooq sahib has been re-elected as party president.
He said Farooq was not interested in continuing as the party president. “However, the party wanted him to continue. He is a senior politician and we still want him to continue with this responsibility”.
Farooq, 88, has been NC president since 1981 except for a seven years period from 2002 to 2009.
In the last delegates convention of party in 2002, Farooq had handed over responsibility of the party to his son, Omar.
Omar, however, resigned from the post in 2009 after taking over as chief minister of NC-Congress coalition government in the state. In January 2009, Farooq was again elected party president and continued to hold the post since then.
Speaking on the occasion, Farooq said, “I am getting old and did not want to continue as the party president. The doctors in the world have been unable so far to invent an injection to reverse ageing”.
He said the party insisted him to continue as president and he would continue with the responsibility.
“However, finally Omar has to take over the responsibility,” added Farooq, who has been three-time chief minister of the state.
The party also passed resolution calling for restoration of autonomy to J&K in original form as has been enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
“We will continue to strive for restoration of autonomy and restoration of Article 370 to its original, pristine form. We strongly condemn those divisive voices, who are opposed to the sovereign constitutional guarantees extended to people of the state," reads the resolution.
Autonomy is the main plank of NC and in 2000, J&K Assembly had passed an autonomy resolution but the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government rejected the resolution.
“Restoration of autonomy is the only solution to the Kashmir issue. The central government has eroded our autonomy and have to restore the autonomy in pristine form,” Farooq said.
“If you have to win our hears, return our autonomy,” he said.
Referring to Kashmiri Pandits, who migrated from Kashmir after eruption of militancy in the State, NC president said the Pandits were not evicted by Kashmirs but by the then Governor of the State, Jagmohan.
“He told them that I would end the militancy in few months and you would come back later. However, even after passage of 28 years, he has not ensured their return to the Valley,” he said.
Farooq told Pandits to thank Jammu people, who hugged them and gave space to space.
Terming homeland demand of Pandits as farce, he said, “If they have to live in Kashmir, they have to live with us.”
“I have told Pandits that you won’t be saved by Indian army or police but by Kashmiri Muslims,” he added.
Taking a dig at BJP vice president and party’s pointman on Kashmir Ram Madhav, Farooq said, “Ram Madhav mama bana hua hai kashmir ka (Ram Madhav is playing smart in Kashmir”.
He said Madhav has no understanding on Kashmir.
While speaking on the occasion, Omar questioned central government for appointing former intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor on Kashmir if it was not even ready to provide autonomy to the State.
He said BJP leaders were crying hoarse over Chidambaram's statement of autonomy to J&K.
“When the MoS PMO Jitendra Singh thinks there is no Kashmir issue, what was the fun of sending an interlocutor to Kashmir. With different statements coming from BJP ministers, people in Kashmir were confused about the role of the interlocutor” he said adding, “Even Shama would be confused what role he has”.
The NC also called on India and Pakistan to initiate a sustained, sustainable and comprehensive dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.