All claims made by the BJP-led Central government to justify the abrogation of Article 370 proved to be wrong as Jammu and Kashmir still faces militancy, separatism, destruction and injustice, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said on Sunday.
The former chief minister said militancy spread to even those areas, including summer capital Srinagar, which were declared militancy-free during his government's tenure from 2009-15, with disillusioned local youths continuing to take up arms.
Addressing a public rally at Doda bus stand, Mr Abdullah said the claims of the Central government on ending militancy and separatism proved false as did its remarks that Article 370 created an obstacle for the outside investment and for the overall development of the J&K.
Mr Abdullah, who is currently on an eight-day tour of Chenab Valley region comprising Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar districts of Jammu province, said his party would continue its struggle in a peaceful manner to restore the pre-August 2019 status of Jammu and Kashmir.
"All the claims of the government with regard to J&K to justify abrogation of Article 370 proved wrong. The reality is that J&K is faced with destruction, helplessness, unemployment, poverty and injustice after the August 2019 development," he said.
He said they are projecting that everyone in Jammu and Kashmir is happy and there is 'mauja hi mauja' (all is well) everywhere but "we have not seen this as the hearts of the people are weeping".
"They promised peace in Jammu and Kashmir but it is nowhere to be seen. During our rule (NC-Congress between 2009 and 2015), we removed security pickets from interior parts of Srinagar which were cleared of militancy and were also thinking of revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)."
"From Kupwara to Jawahar Tunnel, we see all the militancy-cleared pockets witnessing a revival in militancy. The militants have not come from outside but the disillusioned local youths are picking up the guns," Omar said, adding three youths killed in a recent encounter in Rambagh locality of Srinagar picked up the gun after 2019. "And they (ruling dispensation) are making claims that nobody is joining militant ranks".
"If the youth are still joining militant ranks, whom do they want to mislead. The separatists called for a general strike in protest against the killing of innocents in the November 15 Hyderpora encounter and the strike was total with not a single shop open in Srinagar. They are claiming that the separatist sentiment in J&K is dead," Omar said.
He also questioned the government over its "failure" to bring investment and provide jobs to the local youth and said they were claiming that Article 370 was a hindrance in the development but nothing has changed on the ground over the past two years and three months.
"They (BJP) who are ruling in Delhi and enjoy backdoor power in J&K unleashed a propaganda against our party and used to claim that its address will not be seen anywhere. The massive participation of the people should serve as an eye-opener to them that NC is standing tall and we will go nowhere till completion of our mission which is restoration of the special status along with statehood,” Omar said.
Asking the leaders to work for strengthening the party at the grassroots level, he said, "Time has gone to sit idle at our homes and watch television."
"We have to act now and reach out to the masses and make them aware of all that we have lost on August 5, 2019 and listen to their problems as well," he said, adding "our fight for restoration of special status is based on truth and our respectable president (Farooq Abdullah) had given us a direction that the party will not take any step which is against the law or the constitution in pursuit of our mission".
He said the National Conference would not repeat the mistake of boycotting Assembly elections like it did during Panchayat and Urban local bodies polls in 2018 and said it has learnt its lesson by leaving the field open to the BJP and others.
"They want us to boycott the elections but this is not going to happen. There was no justification for downgrading J&K into a Union Territory except to humiliate and upset the people of J&K,” Omar said.
He reiterated his demand for the return of the body of Amir Magray, one of the four persons killed in the controversial Hyderpora encounter, to his family and said his father is sure that his son was not associated with militancy.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)