SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has stirred up a hornet’s nest by claiming that Kashmiris are being treated as “slaves” and they do not feel or want to be Indian.

In an interview to The Wire, he said that Kashmiris would rather prefer to be ruled by Chinese, a point he reiterated when he was asked if he really meant this.

Abdullah, who heads the National Conference party, also described the Kashmiris as “slaves who were being treated like second class citizens”.

Abdullah said it was complete rubbish for the Bharatiya Janata Party to claim that the people of Kashmir have accepted August 2019 changes just because there have been no protests.

He said if the soldiers on every street and Section 144 were to be lifted, people will come out in their tens of lakhs. Abdullah said the new domicile law was intended to flood the Valley with Hindus and create a Hindu majority. He said this has further embittered the Kashmiri people.

Asked as to how Kashmiris view the Central government in particular, Prime Minister Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, Abdullah said they were deeply disillusioned. He said they had no trust in the Central government. The trust that once bound Kashmir to the rest of the country has completely snapped, he added.

Abdullah revealed details of his meeting with the Prime Minister roughly 72 hours before August 5, 2019, when the constitutional changes in Kashmir were announced.

The former chief minister said he had met the Prime Minister seeking assurances about the continuation of Articles 370 and 35A. He asked the prime minister why there were so many troops in the Valley and whether this was because of any perceived military threat.

Abdullah suggested the prime minister deliberately went out of his way to give him the impression the massive increase in troops was for security purposes. He said Modi did not say a word about Articles 370 and 35A. Consequently, Abdullah emerged from that meeting believing the two Articles were not in danger.

The former union minister noted that he seemed to have fallen between two stools. The Centre viewed him as a traitor and arrested him. Kashmiris, on the other hand, saw him as a servant of India and a said thing like this ‘serves Abdullah right’.  He said they chided and taunted him for having said “Bharat Mata ki jai.”

“After 7-8 months in detention, people now realize that we are not servants of India”, he said.

The former chief minister noted that he has faith in the Supreme Court and hoped that it would stop postponing the petition and hear it expeditiously.

Asked why he had not raised this matter during the present session of parliament, which ends on Wednesday, he said he was not given the time.

He said he had gone to meet Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla along with MPs from Congress, Trinamool, DMK, and the Communist Parties. He said the speaker had assured them time for a discussion would be allocated, but that never happened.

Asked if he believed the government had intervened and told the speaker not to give time, Abdullah said he did not know but agreed that the the speaker did not keep his word.

Abdullah said Mehbooba Mufti was politically close to both his son Omar and himself. He said that he was in touch with her frequently, every week.

Abdullah asked why Mehbooba Mufti has not been released. “Is she a criminal?” he thundered.

Asked if her incarceration has begun to affect her, Abdullah asked a question in return: “How will it not? She is a human being after all.”

Abdullah said the decision to contest the next state elections will be taken, first, democratically within the National Conference and he, as president, will not impose his personal thinking.

Abdullah said Omar Abdullah’s announcement not to contest elections is his personal decision. However, he added that if Omar does not wish to contest, that is his right. Of himself, he said, he would abide by whatever decision the party took collectively.

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