‘Will boycott general elections if Centre doesn’t clear stand on Article 35A’

Srinagar: Attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said that his party will boycott Lok Sabha and Assembly elections if the government fails to take a stand on Article 35A and Article 370.

Addressing an event , Abdullah said,” We will not only boycott Panchayat elections but also Lok Sabha and Assembly elections if the Centre doesn’t clear its stand on Article 35A and Article 370.”

His statement comes days after he had revealed that his party would not participate in the upcoming Panchayat and urban local body polls until the Centre and the state government make their positions clear on Article 35A “inside and outside the court.”

With regard to the strained ties with Pakistan and Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s recent visit to the neighbouring country, the NC Chief said that people with vested interests on both sides of the India-Pakistan border are trying to create a rift between the two nations.

“The manner in which media targeted Sidhu shows there are elements which don’t want India-Pakistan relations to improve. There are people with vested interests, both in India and Pakistan, who don’t want peace. But, for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, friendship between India and Pakistan is essential,” he said.

“When an RSS leader like (late) Vajpayee can go to Pakistan as the Prime Minister and say he’s the leader of people in India and India accepts Pakistan as a nation and wants to strike friendship with them…If we’re friends with our neighbour, both of us will prosper. I hope Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) thinks about it and works for it,” he added.

Sidhu, who shared space with the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) President Masood Khan during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony and hugged Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, drew flak from a number of political leaders for the same.

Abdullah also rebuffed rumours that Kashmiri Pandits were scared.
“Agencies are spreading rumours that Kashmiri Pandits are scared. The way Jagmohan (J-K Governor:1984-89 and Jan-May’90) did earlier, they (agencies) think by spreading such rumours Kashmiri Pandits will leave, there will be uproar in rest of the country and Hindus and Muslims will be killed,” he stated.

Highlighting the need to preserve the communal harmony of the country, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister asserted that India needs to respect all religions.

“No Muslim has ever told a Hindu or Christian to change the way they practice religion, but when they tell us not to offer Namaz in a particular way or stop Azaan, they want to change Gandhi’s India. If they want to save the nation, they need to respect all religions equally,” he said.