Afraid to go out of J&K… first target Muslims: Omar Abdullah

Former Chief Minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah Saturday said he feels sacred going out of Jammu and Kashmir as an atmosphere has been built in the country where “the first target are Muslims”.

Addressing party workers in border town Poonch, Omar said: “Dar lagta hai aaj Jammu-Kashmir se bahar janey mein. Ek aisa mahoul bana hua hai mulk mein, jahan sabse pehla nishana badkismati se Musalmaan hain. Ek bahut hi khatarnak khel khela ja raha hai (There is a fear in going out of J&K now. An atmosphere has been created in the country where unfortunately the first targets are Muslim. A very dangerous game is being played).”

Claiming “everything is under attack”, he added: “There is azaan from our mosques, they have a problem; we eat halal meat, they have a problem; some of our daughters, sisters want to hear hijab to college, they have a problem… A problem with everything…”

This is the second outburst by Omar over communal polarisation in the country. On April 27, the NC leader had said this was not the India that Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to. While referring to the hijab and mosque loudspeakers controversy, he had said: “We were not told that one religion would be given importance and others would be suppressed. If that had been told to us, perhaps our decision would have been something else.”

The fact that Omar chose Poonch, a Muslim-majority district in Jammu, for Saturday’s remarks is significant.

Going on to talk about controversial demolition drives across the country, he asked whether people from only one community were behind illegal constructions. “Who has not raised such constructions? But when the bulldozer moves, it moves only on one side.”

The NC leader said that the Hindustan in which every religion was to be seen equally and without discrimination, “uss Hindustan ko tehas nehas kiya ja raha hai (that Hindustan is being destroyed)”.

Omar cautioned people against attempts to divide them on religious lines. “If things are bad in J&K, they are bad for everybody. There isn’t any particular section that is progressing or whose life is easy, but everybody is unhappy… If people, whether Hindu, Muslim Sikh, Christian or Buddhist, are asked behind closed doors as to what have been the benefits of abrogation of Article 370, they don’t have the answer. Except for a few BJP people, who is happy?”

Questioning claims of normalcy, Omar said: “Two-and-a-half years after its abrogation, there are still people in Kashmir who do not want to stay with India. There are youths who are picking up guns knowing well they will be killed in six-eight months. But no one is ready to talk to them to find out why they are doing so.”

On the call by former NC MLA Aijaz Jan asking people to come to the streets, Omar said he did not support this. “I will not make the people of Poonch come on the roads… I will not give anybody an excuse to arrest someone here, fire teargas or bullet… We will fight for our rights, but with peaceful means… We will not take law in our hands and we will not spoil the atmosphere here… We will not divide people… We will knock on whichever doors are required.”

The NC leader referred to the recent decision by the Supreme Court to take up cases relating to the abrogation of Article 370 after the court summer vacation. “In Allah’s court, there may be delay, but we will wait and I hope we will get justice,” he said.

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