SRINAGAR: With National Conference president and former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah spelling out party’s policy of fighting Article 370 revocation in court and pressing for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, party's chief spokesman and three-time former legislator Aga Ruhullah said, "What happened on August 5, 2019 is beyond statehood" and restoration of statehood should be the last demand.
Talking to this newspaper, Ruhullah, who is still under house arrest, said that Omar in an article has spelled out that Article 370 would be fought in court and restoration of statehood would be demanded. Omar has announced that he would not contest Assembly elections till statehood of Jammu & Kashmir is restored.
On August 5 last year, centre scrapped Articles 370 and 35A, which granted special status and special privileges to Jammu & Kashmir residents, and also split it into two Union Territories (UTs) – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Ruhullah, who is an influential Shia leader and also a former minister, said what happened on August 5, 2019 is beyond statehood. "The restoration of statehood should be the least of the demands. It should be the last demand. Our main demand should be restoration of special status," he said.
Omar in an interview has categorically ruled out agitating over restoration of Article 370 and 35A. "Now if you are asking me whether the NC will take this battle to the streets, I think the time for that has passed. When in the immediate aftermath of what happened on August 5, the battle didn’t go out into the streets, why would it go down to the streets one year later. So we will fight it politically, legally," Omar said.
Ruhullah said the party vice president has spoken out and it is now the official line. "This should be the policy towards which NC will now move".
Asked whether Omar's policy is more of reconciliation towards Delhi, Ruhullah said, "If party’s central working committee endorses the same pattern, then it should be reconciliation. I hope the working committee strikes down any reconciliation. However, if the working committee endorses the same policy to move ahead, then it is a reconciliation unfortunately to which I personally may not subscribe to"
The union territory's BJP unit, J&K Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari and Congress have also been demanding restoration of statehood to J&K.
Ruhullah had earlier told this newspaper that "what happened on August 5 was a coup on the population of J&K. The entire population was treated like slaves and a coup was mounted on J&K people and every right of theirs was snatched. We have been left with nothing. We were left naked on August 5".
He had said political leaders must keep aside aspirations of power and chair and start struggling and fighting for what has been snatched from us.
"The politicians should talk and fight for restoration of rights snatched from J&K people on August 5. Even if we are jailed or put in prisons for talking about it, we should not be worried and afraid. Instead we should be ready for it," added Ruhullah.