Karan Thapar’s interview of Dr. Farooq Abdullah

Jagmohan Sharma
The other day Dr. Farooq Abdullah was ‘fire & tongs’ while being interviewed by Karan Thapar for ‘The Wire’, a platform that is known to be Modi hater. As was evident Karan Thapar was ‘provoking & instigating’ him to spew venom and hatred & help communalize the issue regarding present political situation in J&K. Karan Thapar visibly hand-held Dr Farooq & led him up the garden path with such questions that had the intent of creating a rift between Hindus – Muslims & Hindus – Buddhists in J&K and Ladakh.
The issue at hand was ‘moderation’ of the Temporary Article 370 of the Indian constitution on 05.08.2019 by the Parliament and abrogation of the controversial Article 35A.
The key words used by Dr. Farooq in the interview were trust, jamhuriyat, communalism, Kashmiriyat and insaniyat. The facts out of innumerable historical instances mentioned below will show the mirror to the interviewer & the interviewee & compel them to rethink of the high moral ground they intended to look for:
* On May 10, 1946 Sheikh Abdullah launched “Quit Kashmir” movement against the Dogra rule over Kashmir. On May 17, 1946 the Sheikh thundered that “the tyranny of Dogras has lacerated our souls. It is time for action. You must fight slavery & enter the field of ‘Jihad’ as soldiers.” On May 20th the Sheikh was arrested along with other prominent members of the National Conference. This action of Maharaja Hari Singh incensed Jawahar Lal Nehru who rushed to Kashmir to get his friend & protégé released from jail. While crossing into the J&K state Nehru was arrested on the border. Nehru never forgave Maharaja for this action & continued to take help from Sheikh Abdullah more stridently to take revenge on Maharaja & show him down, both personally & politically, unmindful of the costs.
Nehru was unable to get the Sheikh released from jail, but after about 16 months & followed by the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Srinagar, the Sheikh wrote a letter of apology to the Maharaja on 26.09.1947 in which he assured His Highness of loyalty and support in the following words:
“That myself and my party have never harboured any sentiment of disloyalty towards Your Highness’ person, throne or dynasty. I assure Your Highness the fullest & loyal support of myself & my organization. Not only this, but I assure Your Highness that any party within or without the State, which may attempt to create any impediments in our efforts to gain our goal, will be treated as our enemy & will be treated as such.” Further he writes “I beg to assure Your Highness once again of my steadfast loyalty and pray that God under Your Highness’ aegis bring such an era of Peace, Prosperity and Good Government that it may be second to none and be an ideal for others to copy”.
However, subsequent actions of the Sheikh visa-vis the Maharaja didn’t prove his trustworthiness which the Maharaja bemoaned time & again in his correspondence to central leaders. The Sheikh on his part leveraged the political situation unfolding in J&K and his friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru to exile Maharaja Hari Singh & Maharani Tara Devi from J&K on 20.06.1949. The Maharaja was not allowed to come back to J&K ever & it was only his ashes that returned to Jammu after his death in Mumbai (then Bombay) on 26.04.1961.
This was the consequence of the Trust reposed by the Maharaja on the Sheikh & his mentor JL Nehru.
* J&K joined Indian Union after the Instrument of accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh on 26.10.1947. The Kashmiris under Sheikh Abdullah welcomed the accession wholeheartedly, but soon Sheikh Abdullah started having second thoughts and Nehru decided that the relationship between the State and the center would be defined separately in view of the situation unfolding and circumstances caused by the invasion of the princely State by Pakistan.
On 24.07.1952 Pandit Nehru announced in Indian Parliament that ‘Delhi Agreement’ had been concluded between the central government & political leadership of J&K after a protracted discussion which would define the political relationship between the Indian union & J&K. It was agreed under “Delhi Agreement” that the Constituent Assembly of J&K would frame a separate constitution for the state.
Having achieved what he wanted the Sheikh abolished the monarchy immediately, got the land reforms bill confirmed, but started dragging feet on implementation of other provisions of the agreement. He started dithering and hobnobbing with forces inimical to India. He visualized J&K to be a Sheikhdom for himself.
Following the whiff of ‘Breach of Trust’, an anguished Nehru wrote to the Sheikh in disgust that his position was becoming untenable in the Parliament as well as the cabinet as whenever he was questioned about the implementation of the ‘Delhi agreement’ he had no reply. Hereafter, the Sheikh started avoiding Nehru & did not go to Delhi for meetings called by him.
Clock had now turned full circle for Nehru’s Trust on the Sheikh. Nehru had not paid any heed to the early warnings of his cabinet colleagues & others about changing colours of the Sheikh. Over time however, he realized that he was shortchanged by the Sheikh and as such, jailed him in Aug. 1953.
The Sheikh played his “game of Trust” again – this time with Indira Gandhi. After the 1971 war with Pakistan & creation of Bangladesh, the Sheikh recalibrated his strategy vis-a-vis his demand for plebiscite. After more than 3 years of prolonged deliberations he reached an agreement with the Indira Gandhi Government at the center. Consequently he was sworn as the CM of J&K on 25.02.1975 under a unique arrangement where neither the CM nor his cabinet colleagues were from the Congress party that had an absolute majority in the State legislature.
After swearing in the Sheikh started exhibiting his dictatorial streak and cracks showed up in the Government within 10 months of the accord. He attempted induction of Congressmen into his cabinet without consulting Indira Gandhi. The acrimony resulted in collapse of the Trust and the government in March 1977.
Thus lesser said about the trust the better.
During the interview, Dr. Farooq Abdullah alleged that demographic changes are sought to be brought about in Kashmir after ‘moderation’ in Article 370. Now, look at the absurdity. Thousands of illegal Rohingya Muslim refugees have been settled in Jammu after they were clandestinely brought in from Myanmar – thousands of kilometers from Jammu. None of them have been provided refuge in Kashmir. Karan Thapar knows, but conveniently forgets, that though there has been mass exodus of population from Kashmir to Jammu over last 3 decades, there is hardly any Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Sikh family belonging to Jammu that has moved to Kashmir or purchased immovable property there. He is unmindful of the fact that almost 80% employees in the J&K secretariat are from Kashmir. Jammu (any religion, caste or creed) represents only 20%.
Karan Thapar didn’t question Dr. Farooq about the infamous “Roshni Act” passed during his tenure as the CM? The reader must know that the camouflaged intent of this Act was to bring in Rs.25000 crores to the government exchequer for building hydro power projects, but the actual intent was to loot 20 lakh kanals (250,000 acres) of forest & government land. The scheme was able to scrape in only Rs.76 crores, causing not only a revenue loss of Rs. 24,924 thousand crores, but also a loss of 20 lakh kanals of government & forest land that was transferred to the intended beneficiaries. Karan Thapar didn’t ask Dr. Abdullah about the number of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh & Christians from Jammu who got land in Kashmir under this Act & who were the people who were allocated lands in Jammu province?
Dr. Abdullah, swearing by democracy day in and day out needs to be reminded that the elections for the constituent assembly of J&K held in 1951 were “managed, manipulated and rigged”. 73 members of the National Conference party of the Sheikh were elected, rather selected, to the constituent Assembly unopposed (without contest) under the watch of the Sheikh & the state election commission. Those days the Election Commission of India did not have jurisdiction over J&K.
It is an open secret that the elections held to the J&K Legislative Assembly in March 1987 under the Chief Minister-ship of Dr. Farooq were rigged by his party in the Kashmir Valley. This caused a widespread resentment and rapid deterioration of political as well as law & order situation in the Valley. However, these ‘votaries of democracy’ preferred to ‘stoke fire’ and ‘play truant’ simultaneously when around 500,000 Kashmiri Hindus were emigrating to escape targeted killings, loot & mayhem in 1989-90.
Dr. Farooq may take pride in tom-tomming “Kashmiriyat” quite often, but sure enough, it is the attribute of the common Kashmiri people & not that of the politicians of his ilk in Kashmir. These politicians always keep self-interest uppermost in their mind. Indira Gandhi had to face the unsavory side of such politicians in 1983 when “unclothed” NC hooligans were infiltrated amongst the audience at Iqbal Park to create a ruckus during her election rally. And here you have Karan Thapar making virtue of Dr. Farooq’s motorcycle escapades all across the Kashmir Valley with a famous Bollywood actress on the pillion.
‘Insaniyat’ part of such Kashmiri politicians can be gauged from the fact that refugees from Pakistan or PoJK were not allowed citizenship rights in J&K and they had to spend their lives as people from no-where. On the other hand we have refugees in the rest of the country, prospering and two of them even becoming the Prime Ministers of India.
J&K has reached the present situation because of such Kashmiri politicians habitual of “running with India & hunting it with Pakistan since 1947; enjoying pelf and power at the cost of both”. They continue to befool 1400 million people of India including seven million Kashmiris.
The icing on the cake – if you may – in the interview was Dr. Farooq’s new found love for China. Not surprising as China now is a country with “moolah” and thus their horrendous treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang province can simply be brushed aside by the likes of Dr. Farooq. Many a politicians of Kashmir have a history of looking beyond their borders. Some tried to reach out to Sher Shah Suri requesting him to take over Kashmir, but couldn’t for his problems with Humayun. Akbar was invited by others to take over Kashmir and without any remorse, sacrificed their own Shia king Yousuf Shah Chak. Another generation of these politicians reached out to the Afghans only to get brutalized to an extent that the stories of their brutality are remembered even today. The Sikh Darbar was later requested to take over the administration of Kashmir. Now we have Dr. Farooq Abdullah provoking Kashmiris to welcome China and repeatedly calling the people South of the ‘Banihal line’ as ‘aliens’.
The question is that for how long will the people of Jammu province remain tied up for development and progress with the untrustworthy and dithering political leadership of Kashmir?
The Government of India and the political leadership of Kashmir may deal with each other in the way they mutually decide, but the people of Jammu shall be relieved of this tyranny if Jammu province is carved out as a newer state of India. That is the only long lasting and respectable solution to the problem of Jammuites as well as Kashmiris.
Here it seems relevant to turn back to the statement by Sheikh Abdullah during “Quit Kashmir” movement in 1946, quoted earlier in this write-up & modify it in the present context of anxiety and speculations in Jammu province: “The tyranny of Kashmiri politicians for last 73 years has lacerated the soul of the people of Jammu province – that is why they must fight slavery, come out of the “Stockholm Syndrome” & come together for creation of the Jammu State”.