SRINAGAR, Aug 22: Former Chief Minister and National Conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah was heckled today during Eid prayers at Hazratbal Masjid, where Abdullahs traditionally offer the prayers.
As the prayers were about to start at Hazratbal which was considered to be bastion of the NC, Abdullah walked in. As people saw him coming inside they started booing at him and demanding his removal from the Masjid.
When a section of slogan shouting youths tried to approach Abdullah, who sat on a chair in the front row because of his ill-health, security personnel threw a ring around the NC leader to protect him. The section of the gathering shouted slogans of “Farooq Abdullah go back” and “Hum Kya Chahte, Azaadi”.
And with the intervention of the Masjid Committee, Abdullah prayed at the Masjid but there was commotion as a section of people was shouting slogans against him when the prayers were on.
As soon as the prayer finished, Abdullah got up to leave without waiting for the Khutbah (sermon), which is mandatory. Some protestors took their shoes in their hands while shouting ‘Shame Shame’. However, he was whisked away by his security guards.
Some people over the last few days have expressed anger on social media after a viral video of his August 20 emotional speech during which he chanted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” at a prayer meeting for the late BJP stalwart Vajpayee in New Delhi. There is also anger among people over the Article 35A issue which was one of the reasons for his heckling.
The National Conference leader later said that he remained unfazed and continued with his prayers, saying the jeering and booing were by his “own people” who were misguided.
“I did not leave the venue and completed my prayers. They are my own people. They are misguided and I cannot escape my duties of being their leader,” Abdullah later said while receiving people at his residence in Gupkar Srinagar.
“Some people were agitated but that does not mean I will escape. I have a task of keeping everyone united,” he said.
The NC president wondered why the issue was being blown out of proportion by a section of the media. “A politician, at times, has to face people’s anger. I only hope these misguided youths are counselled properly,” he said.
Abdullah this evening told a TV channel: “These few people shouted slogans. I sat there and offered my prayers. They were asking me to go back. I said you go on barking and it will not effect me. Now it will affect by judgment about them”.
“They are totally wrong. We should condemn, and condemn them with all might. Do you think I will runaway? They have destroyed the State for last 30 years. They are enemies of the State. These fools, they think, by this they will change the course”, he said.
“I want to tell them who are behind this that they will never succeed. You will pay a very heavy price for this one day. They don’t want peace and they are thriving on violence”, he added.