Much has changed in Kashmir and it was more than evident on the 76th Independence Day on Monday when the Valley saw many firsts. National Conference president and five-time Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, perhaps for the first time since out of power, hoisted the tricolour at his Gupkar road residence, the same place where Gupkar Declaration was scripted and announced two years ago. He demonstrated many messages in unfurling the national tricolour , as a citizen of the country who had had chequered career in politics but remained unwavered in his loyalty to the Indian nation.
In this action on I-Day, Farooq has demonstrated where he stands both in optics and content, and also telling the people in Kashmir and India , where he stands and where all of them should look toward to get the redressal of their issues – Delhi.
Farooq is also president of the PAGD- People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration , hence hoisting of tricolour at his residence is more than symbolic of the change Kashmir has witnessed since the abrogation of Article 370 ( on August 5 , 2019) which snapped the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir , and added to that was dismantling of the state into two union territories of Ladakh , and J&K . And the PAGD is committed to the restoration of the special status and unification of the two UTs in the state that existed before August 5, 2019.
It is a matter of record that Farooq Abdullah ‘s father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who was also first Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and later as Chief Minister from 1975 until his death in September 1982 , was the leader who had negotiated the terms of the Article 370 with the Government of India in late 1940s and also Delhi Agreement of 1952 which elaborated upon the autonomous status and powers of J&K . Farooq , himself had moved the restoration of greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir in June-July 2000, which was rejected the then Atal Behari Vajpayee government.
The attitudes had hardened ever since the abrogation of the Article 370 , as not only his party National Conference , but also the amalgamation of the political parties under the banner of PAGD , had created wide differences between Delhi and Kashmir-based political parties.
Even before the abrogation of Article 370 , Farooq had never hoisted tricolour at his residence where National Conference’s red flag emblazoned with plough in white , fluttered in all seasons . The NC flag was also a precursor to the state flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir , with a minor difference – there were three vertical white lines denoting three regions Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir. The State’s separate flag and the constitution were done away with the abolition of the special status .
Farooq , it appears , has reinforced two points ; upholding the sovereignty of Indian flag in Jammu and Kashmir for there is no denying the fact that he is the tallest political leader , having seen various phases of politics in the subcontinent , and this becomes more important as it is after the August 5 decisions , which he , like many in the Valley had called unconstitutional, illegal but always insisted that they were demanding back what was already there in the constitution . Second point is equally important that this is reiteration of his words, and that of the script that he has read many a times so loudly that they want everything within the sovereign constitution of the country .
Today , he has demonstratively obliterated all doubts that his critics were throwing about his integrity as an Indian. Some of them had charged him with being in league with secessionists . He was also accused of having constituted at the behest of Pakistan . Some of the noises made in Pakistan at the time of the formation of the PAGD that it was a good news for Pakistan had strengthened anti-Farooq and anti- Kashmir-centric political parties . By unfurling the national tricolour at his residence Farooq has denied Pakistan sadistic pleasure from the formation of the PAGD . It underlines that he believes in seeking redressal of the grievances of Kashmir from Delhi and has yet again rebuffed Pakistan’s attempts to hijack the indigenous agenda of Kashmiris.
Farooq has attempted, keeping in his lien of knocking at doors of Delhi for having everything for the people of Kashmir. He made it clear by his spoken words where he traced the history of the past 75 years and hailed the progress that country has made and is marching ahead toward brighter future.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.