National Conference MP and senior leader Mohammad Akbar Lone on Sunday said that his party will not participate in elections unless the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir is restored by the government.
Describing the revocation of Article 370 as New Delhi's act of betrayal, Lone said that the move will cost the government in the long run.
“They have betrayed us. The situation in Kashmir was improving. Nothing untoward had happened in the state that forced them to revoke Article 370. It will cost Delhi in the long run. They think they have done it and it is over now. It is not over. It has just started,” Lone said.
The NC leader not only seemed open to the idea of US mediation over Kashmir, but he was also in praise of Pakistan, saying that the neighbouring country has "stood" by Kashmiris all along.
“Today they (Pakistan) are also with us. If America mediates on Kashmir that is good. But he (President Trump) says one thing one day and then tweets something else about the same issue the very next day," he says.
“India has thrown away Kashmiris. There is no space in present-day India even for Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s son and grandson,” he added.
However, Lone said that his party will fight, with renewed vigour, against the decision to revoke Article 370 and will continue to demand the restoration of the statehood of J&K. He said now they will take the fight to the Supreme Court where they "have a strong case" in which they will prove that a constitutional fraud has been committed against J&K.
Lone rubbishes as "wishful thinking" the claims of the BJP that revocation of Article 370 would end militancy in the region. On the contrary, he adds, that this move has the potential to aggravate the problem and can even make it worse than what was witnessed in 1990.
“The BJP government has injected energy into the Kashmiri resistance movement by this act. It has given a new lease of life to Kashmiri movement. They have taken a foolish step and it would lead to devastating results. Then they would try to douse the fires and but they won’t,” Lone says.
The MP said that had it not been for the mass deployment of the forces in Kashmir region and the unprecedented curfew and blockade of communication, the people would have been on the roads in protest.
In hindsight, however, Lone said that silence of the Kashmiris was reflective of their wisdom for if they had spoken up then "the (government) could have gone for a large number of killings.”
“Our party had a principled position on restoration of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir and permanence of Article 370. Not once but many times we had said relations between Jammu and Kashmir and India would be over if Article 370 is revoked. Modi government did it. We knew Congress had diluted Article 370 to a great extent. But what Modi government did is a huge blow to Kashmiris and their pride,” Lone said while talking to Outlook at his residence here.
“This government (BJP government) has told Kashmiris that ‘you are nothing.’ They told us Kashmiris, ‘who are you.’ I know we have no power before their power. But it doesn’t mean we will remain silent," he said.
“When Article 370 was removed I felt someone has stabbed my heart. We protested in the well of the House when the bill was being discussed in the House. But no TV channel showed our protest," he added. “Separatists were saying ‘we want freedom.’ We were saying ‘we want India.’ India has shown us a thumb. That is it," he said.
The NC leader accused State BJP of launching a consistent campaign to discredit Kashmiri leadership while stating that apart from mainstream political leaders even the party's provincial presidents, district presidents and even Mohalla presidents have been kept under detention.
“The state BJP will look pygmies before the leadership of Kashmir. That is why they are saying a lot many things about them to discredit it,” he adds.
Slamming J&K governor Satya Pal Malik Lone said, “He should have been a clerk in some department. He is too ignorant. He doesn’t know what has been implemented in the state. He demonizes political families of Kashmir without knowing anything about them.”
The MP Lone also blamed the opposition Mehbooba Mufti's PDP for letting the BJP "get the insider view of the state." He said the PDP's biggest blunder was to forge an alliance with the BJP.
“Now they would try to create a political Ikhwan. But they will not reach anywhere,” Lone, who has fought elections against Ikhwan leader Kuka Parray in 1996 and 2002, said.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine