SRINAGAR: Amid the emergence of two political parties in Kashmir (Apni Party and Peoples Conference) with a soft stance towards the Centre and the revocation of Article 370 and politicians looking for ‘greener pastures’ making a beeline to join them, National Conference leader Aga Ruhullah is going against the tide and advocates the launch of a public movement for restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
“Article 370 was our honour and identity. By scrapping J&K’s special status, the Centre has snatched our identity and honour. Which nation will maintain silence after its identity and honour is snatched,” Ruhullah, an influential NC leader from central Kashmir’s Budgam district, said while addressing party workers and leaders in Budgam.
“Our priority should not be to contest polls but get back what has been snatched from us on August 5, 2019,” he said.
Ruhullah, who has been critical of the party for not taking a hard stance on Article 370 restoration, said, “J&K had made conditional accession with India. We supported the conditional accession for over 70 years but Delhi did not fulfill its promises. The Centre scrapped Article 370 and put a question mark on J&K’s accession with India.”
Accusing the Centre of not fulfilling promises made to the people of J&K, he said, “In 1996, when nobody was ready to contest polls in J&K and India was facing embarrassment at international foras, then Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao said if J&K people contest election, the sky is the limit. Farooq Abdullah trusted Rao and contested the polls. What happened to the PM’s promise?”
Advising his party leaders to rise and fight for restoration of Article 370, the 45-year-old leader, who is a three-time former legislator, said, “We have to fight and struggle for it. We have to launch a public movement.”
“If our party launches a movement for restoration of Article 370, I will be in the front rows. But if you want to contest polls, I am not interested in the election. I will stay quietly at home,” he said.
Ruhullah said the movement is not dependent on Assembly, DDC or municipality polls but is above that.
“They want us to contest the DDC and municipal election. And if you feel you would be allowed to contest the Assembly election, you are wrong because Amit Shah and PM Modi have not done this (abrogated Article 370) for replacing one CM with another,” he said.
Advising the party leadership to move beyond power politics, Ruhullah said, “If Altaf Bukhari wants to be CM, let him. If Sajad Lone wants to be CM, let him. You (Omar Abdullah) are bigger and it is not worth the dirt of your shoes provided you take the side of the people and struggle for them. Sadiq, Bakshi became CMs but India had come back to Sheikh Abdullah in 1975.”
Referring to the farmers' agitation, Ruhullah said, “Farmers are agitating so that they can select prices of their produce on their own. We have lost everything and if we struggle and fight for our rights, the government will have no choice but to give what they have snatched from us.”
“We must not surrender but go down while fighting and struggling for our rights,” he added.