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No harm in J-K becoming UT if people benefit: Former PDP leader
8/14/2019 10:57:52 PM

Early Times Report

Ganderbal, Aug 14: Dismissing concerns about Jammu and Kashmir becoming two union territories, former PDP leader Farooq Ahmed Dar says there is no harm if people benefit from it.
He cited the example of New Delhi, asserting that the national capital has continued to develop even though its chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is frequently locked in confrontations with the Union government.
"If people can benefit from a UT status, what's the harm?" he asked, pointing out that the state has never developed beyond being a "consumer state" since 1947.
"We were a consumer state in 1947 and are a consumer state in 2019. We were dependent on outside supply and we are dependent even now," Dar told.
He suggested that the state''s lack of self reliance was because of inept leadership provided by successive state governments once Sheikh Abdullah left the scene.
Acknowledging the role of Sheikh Abdullah, who became ''prime minister'' of Jammu and Kashmir in 1948 and went on to found the National Conference, Dar said "he was the tallest leader who led the people of Jammu and Kashmir into accepting India".
"Everyone accepted it," he said.
Dar, popularly known as "Farooq Ganderbali", resigned recently as distinct president of the Peoples Democratic Party. He also hit out at PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and her predecessor, National Conference''s Omar Abdullah, for misguiding people of the state.
As restrictions in the Kashmir Valley continue after the Centre last week announced the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir''s special status under Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state into two union territories, Dar said Abdullah and Mufti had helped dilute the constitutional provision. "What has been left of Article 370... what are we crying for? In the past 70 years everything was diluted," Dar said.
"The same Abdullahs and Muftis diluted Article 370. It was only acting as a fig leaf to cover their misdeeds," Dar told.
The NC and the PDP are the two principal parties of Jammu and Kashmir. Mehbooba is the daughter of former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. And Omar Abdullah is the son of Farooq Abdullah and grandson of Sheikh Abdullah, both former chief ministers.
Dar, a graduate from Kashmir University who runs the NGO Peace and Justice, said Article 370 had been reduced to the Ranbir Penal Code, the flag, residency rights and claim on jobs.
If all politicians and separatists can have houses in Delhi and other parts of the country, why can't people from the rest of the country have a place in Kashmir, he wondered.
"Separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani can have a house in Khirki (south Delhi) but no other Indian can have a house here. This is called hypocrisy," he said
The Centre, he said, should come forward with policies and promises, including investments expected in the state and employment generation programmes. "Development and efforts for peace have to be done 'dil se' (from the heart)," he said. Dar also blamed the Abdullahs and the Muftis for keeping militancy alive in the state.
"Today Mehbooba is wondering why people are not coming out. When she was chief minister, she defended the killing of youths by reasoning that if protestors attack a security camp, they won't get a toffee, they will get bullets... Does she want people to get killed," he asked.
Dar alleged that politicians are doing politics over dead bodies.
"They and their families are safe and poor Kashmiris are getting killed... militancy was business for them," he said.
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were taken into custody in the early hours of August 5.
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