‘Geelani facilitated fiscal integration with India’
‘Geelani facilitated fiscal integration with India’
- Mehbooba has given up and BJP is directly ruling JK from New Delhi’
- Army more powerful than executive today
- Blood of Kashmiris won’t go waste
- Restoring autonomy only way forward for GoI
- Live in friendship with Pak, survive and progress or live in animosity, suffer death and destruction
- Today is Modi’s rise, fall isn’t far
- Islamisation in Kashmir only in Indian media
- Want to know what happened to Rs 3 crore that Geelani collected for Chrari Sharif shrine
- Tried to persuade Abdul Gani Lone not to bring gun but he realized his it too late
- Maqbool Bhat hanged for killing bank manager, looting Rs 5 lakh
- Did not rig 1987 polls
- Would never have been Indian PM because they don’t want a just man
- Omar million times better than me, doesn’t want to be Indian poster boy
National Conference President, three-time chief minister, and Member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah is critical of New Delhi’s policies on Kashmir but equally holds Islamabad and separatists responsible for the mess that is Kashmir. In the second part of an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir Editor-in-Chief, Shujaat Bukhari and Political Editor, Faisul Yaseen at his Gupkar residence, the veteran politician makes some startling revelations about Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, Syed Ali Geelani, Abdul Gani Lone, the BJP leadership, the Army, and his own ‘association’ with JKLF. Excerpts
- Why didn’t you resign when New Delhi dumped your autonomy resolution?
When they did, I thought of resigning. My mother died and the Prime Minister came and the Home Minister came, they told me here in front of my mother’s body saying, ‘Dr. Sahab don’t resign’ and that they would look into this. I gave a statement to that fact. They appointed K C Panth to look into the issue. Then they appointed Arun Jaitely, the incumbent Defence and Finance Minister, but, unfortunately, that government fell. They kept on discussing and meeting everybody, every shade of opinion. What could Farooq Abdullah do?
- New Delhi not paying heed to you questions the very nature of the mainstream and institutions like Jammu Kashmir Assembly.
In democracy, you keep on fighting. You don’t give up the fight because one rejected it. We are still fighting and this fight has not ended.
- But the separatists blame the mainstream for being an extension of New Delhi in Kashmir?
GST was facilitated by Geelani sahab himself. He bailed them out. Geelani sahab cannot say this to me. And, today people are suffering. He should have listened to us when we said it is our assembly that should pass the law and that we would collect the taxes. But Geelani sahab is responsible for our fiscal integration with India by handing our fiscal autonomy to New Delhi.
- But isn’t he correct in saying this considering what Mehbooba Mufti did to Burhan Wani, and what Omar Abdullah did to Afzal Guru.
Afzal Guru fought the case in the Supreme Court. Was the judgement given in the Supreme Court or by Farooq Abdullah?
- But he was picked up from No. 28 when you were part of the government.
In my time, Maqbool Bhat was hanged. What was he hanged for, for killing the bank manager and looting Rs 5 lakh from the bank. The bank manager ran after him pleading for his life saying, ‘What will happen to my family, please don’t do this.’ He shot him. Do you accept that because he was fighting for the liberty of the State? And how many of your lawyers went to defend him? Did our (Muzaffar Hussain) Baig sahab defend him (Afzal)? Don’t put the blame on us.
- What is the solution?
A solution will emerge. The only solution forward is talks and without talks nothing will happen.
- But Delhi doesn’t seem to care?
It doesn’t make any difference. They do not care today, but one day, they will have to care and the day will come. New Delhi is pursuing a hardline on Kashmir and thinks only hardline will work. Big (Adolf) Hitlers disappeared. (Benito) Mussolinis disappeared. The blood of people of Kashmir will not go waste.
- You said stone throwers were fighting for a cause. Do you connect it with the struggle for rights you are talking of?
Everyone has his own way of struggle. They took the stone. They have their own way of struggle. They use stone throwing as a struggle. I hope that leads to the final destination. Kashmir is a political problem. Any struggle that is for the final settlement of the State, a political settlement, has to be achieved. For this they have taken the road of stones. Some people have taken the road of guns. NC has never taken the road of stones or the guns. We are going to fight it politically.
- How do you see Modi?
When he came to power with a strong mandate, many people had expectations that he would be able to deliver on Kashmir and Pakistan. He is the strongest leader in India today. The world accepts it. He has got total majority in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The President and the Vice President are from his party. The Speaker is from his party. He is the master today as once Congress was. Everyone has a rise and a fall. Today is his rise. Fall is not far. He has had so many failures. Their own GST bill has got so many tragedies in the country. Look at the struggle of the farmers who are committing suicide. Where is the progress? Where is the employment he promised to generate? Look at the Muslims who are being targeted day in and day out. What about the Dalits who are being targeted. This is not the India that I know where all of us had an equal right to survive and live with honour and dignity.
- So, 70 years after the independence of the Indian subcontinent, does Muhammad Ali Jinnah stand vindicated today for his two-nation theory when a cow is more precious than a life of a Muslim in India?
Hindus see cow as their mother. I cannot dispute them. It is their religion. My religion teaches me ‘Lakum Deenukum Waliya Deen’ (To you, your religion, to me mine). If they want to respect the cow, it is upto them, but do not deny Muslims their right. As far as two-nation theory is concerned, it had its own way but has that country progressed. Did they not lose East Pakistan? If the religion was the uniting factor, then Bangladesh should not have dissociated itself from Pakistan. Contrary to this, in our country there are people who still are fighting for the principle for which India was made. They are not few, their voice may not be heard today because media has been bought, news channels have been bought but that does not mean that voice does not exist. There are people in this nation who speak out.
- Do you still have faith in that?
Yes, I have a very strong faith. These are moments. Sometimes the currents are very rough but they do not last forever. These moments will disappear.
- Would the accession of Jammu Kashmir to Pakistan not have saved Kashmiris from the miseries they have been for the past seven decades?
Over 5 lakh people have been killed on this side. Never, never, never. It would have destroyed the very fabric of what Kashmir stands for. Punjabis would have ruled us. Ask Kashmiris who are living there. We are getting killed because we are fighting. People in other Kashmir are not fighting. They have accepted total assimilation with Pakistan. We have not done so. We continue to say that we have acceded to India, not merged. We have acceded on some principles that we have agreed upon. You are the ones who have uprooted those principles. We still stand on them. We continue to tell them that they have to revert to the conditions on which the accession was done. Even when Mrs. (Indira) Gandhi said clock cannot be turned back, my father told her that the clock would have to be turned back.
- But it was never?
It will happen. It may not happen during our lifetime but one day, it will happen.
- How do you say that?
I see it in the struggle of the youth. I see it in their blood. They are the future.
- Are you worried about radicalisation of youth?
No I am not worried. If they feel that by radicalization they would get justice, best of luck to them. Let them try it.
- But in the process, the youth get perished?
God will send more. Nothing disappears. In the fight against the Dogra rule, people used to say that Maharaja’s name was everywhere and there was no one to throw him out. God created such a situation that he had to run away.
- Are you ok with the changing ideology of the youth picking up guns?
They will continue to change. It is their path. I have not chosen that path.
- How do you see what some people refer as growing Islamisation in Kashmir?
There is no Islamisation. This is a great tragedy that is being promulgated by the Indian media that the struggle here is for Islam. It is not a struggle for Islam. It is a struggle for the rights of the people. It is a political problem not an Islamic issue.
- Your picture with Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat at Mirpur in 1974 has been viral on social media for quite some time now and certain quarters have suggested that you had sworn oath as a JKLF member. Are these reports correct?
No, I never swore oath to JKLF. The first and foremost thing they did to me is character assassination. They used to say Farooq Abdullah is carrying on with this actress, with that actress; Farooq Abdullah never attends office; Farooq Abdullah is busy in other activities. They thought by tarnishing me, they will be able to take on me. I was on Pakistan visit and during the visit I saw entire Pakistan administered Kashmir. I also wanted to see Gilgit Baltistan but unfortunately, the lights were very dodgy those days and they told me not to go to Gilgit least I might get stuck there.
- But you were with Muhammad Maqbool Bhat in that picture?
I was in a convention that they invited me to and I went to the convention but I never took an oath for JKLF. Can they show me a single picture where I am taking oath on Quran or my hands are on Quran or something that I have taken oath on? I never did.
- Is it correct that during your visit to Pakistan, the then Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told you that Islamabad would no longer be able to support Kashmir because of the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
No, he never did. Yes, I met him Bhutto during my Pakistan visit. First, I met his Secretary (Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Information) Muhammad Yousuf Buch, who was a Kashmiri. He told me that though you are going to talk to Bhutto, Pakistan has taken a decision in Simla that the part of Kashmir with Pakistan is Pakistan’s and the part with India India’s. Then I went to see Bhutto. In that April heat, he said, ‘We will not talk in the room but outside under a tree.’ Surprised that from an air-conditioned room, he was taking me outside in hot weather, I asked, ‘Why?’ to which he replied, ‘There is no secrecy in a room.’ He asked me, ‘What is your father talking to Indira Gandhi? What is all this?’ I replied, ‘You have already decided in Shimla that the portion of Kashmir with Pakistan is Pakistan’s and with India India’s, so he has to look into that Kashmir.’ Bhutto said there was no such thing and that they had not taken any such decision. At that time entire Pakistan was talking of the decision saying the two countries had taken this decision on Kashmir and I believe Kashmir became the reason why he was hanged in the end. And hanging him was the biggest tragedy. He also told me, ‘Why your father every time asks for opening of Rawalpindi road.’ I replied, ‘He wants Kashmiris to see what is on the other side of the mountain because they have this impression that it is all green on this side.’
- Good or bad, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah has left a legacy. What legacy would Farooq Abdullah, who is seen as the prodigal son of Sher-e-Kashmir, leave?
What was done to the prodigal son who returned and the other son complained to his father saying, ‘You got so many sheep sacrificed for him, and I have been loyal to you all my life and you never sacrificed a single sheep for me.’ And the father said, ‘He has come back. He has returned home.’
- Where is Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s legacy today?
It continues. It has not diminished. This battle for the peoples’ rights has been on since 1931. NC was never against the Maharaja and believed that people should elect their leader. Today’s struggle is the same. India should listen to voice of people of Jammu Kashmir.
- Have you failed your father politically?
No, I have not failed my father. Had I failed him, I would not have been here. I would not have rejected Government of India’s claim when they passed the Resettlement Bill. I got dismissed for it in 1984. Generally, it is said that you have learnt to be on the right sight of New Delhi for being in power. If I needed to be in power, I would have been in power today. Before they approached Mufti (Muhammad Sayeed) in December 2014, they (BJP) approached me when I was in a hospital for kidney transplant in London. They pleaded to Omar (Abdullah). When he did not accept, they came to me.
- You have been a three-time chief minister of J&K but here the institution of Army is much more powerful than the executive. Why?
It is today. It was never this powerful when I was the CM. I remember a boy was killed by an ordinary Captain of the Army near Pattan while people were raising anti-government slogans for my government’s failure in getting an electricity transformer repaired while blocking the passage of a convoy of the Army. The Army man took out his revolver and shot the boy. I called the then Defence Minister George Fernandes and the then 15 Corps Commander, (Lt Gen Vinayak Gopal) Patankar and told (Lt) Gen Patankar what right did his Captain have to shoot this innocent boy. I told him that the Captain should be immediately charged for murder. To this Patankar told the Defence Minister that he would called the Army back to the barracks. I lost my temper and told him, ‘Remember you are not the master, you are a servant, and how dare you say you will bring troops back to the barracks?’ In another incident In Doda, militants shot a Colonel of the Army and the Army men responded by burning an entire village. I went by a helicopter and saw the destruction with my own eyes and called the Defence Minister and the Northern Commander (General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command). A helipad was made on the top of a mountain and I took them around and told them, ‘Look what is happening.’ The Army had to build the entire village. I had that courage.
- And how did that servant went on to become the master?
It’s because Mehbooba gave up. Now it is the direct rule by BJP from New Delhi. In my days, how dare anybody do this? I used to tell them in their face what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
- Then what happened in 2010?
You should ask Omar (Abdullah) about it. I myself did whatever I could do in the best interests of the State. I didn’t give in. In my day, BJP was not ruling here. Today, BJP is ruling here.
- How do you see the future?
We are going to go through turbulent times. But if our struggle is right and we have faith in God and ourselves, we will achieve justice.
- What is the way forward?
The final solution is that the two nations have to talk. They will have to accept the realities of today and Government of India will have to restore the autonomy of the State. That is the only way forward. You have also been talking of imposing Governor’s rule in the State. Now there is no question of Governor’s rule. That stage is over. It is a question of whether she would decide to leave if Article 35-A is abrogated. Then only will there be Governor’s rule. She has another three years to go as long as she is there.
- What is your role in the Parliament now?
What an opposition member has in the Parliament.
- Any regrets in life?
I did everything I could do for the people that was in my power. My biggest regret is that I could not look after my health.
- The Legislative Assembly polls of 1987 are considered to be a blot on your political career. Do you today regret not having handled things in a better then?
That was made a blot. I do not regret at all. People, who say elections were rigged, should have gone to the court and complained to Election Commission. How many seats would they have won? Five or six. Would that have changed the situation? Did Geelani sahab’s leaving the assembly change the situation? I did not rig elections then, I am not in favour of rigging polls today.
- Will you propose something like a ‘Double-Umar accord’ or a ‘Geelani-Farooq’ accord for the betterment of the people?
I have no intentions. Thank God, today at least the opposition is united. Will the others join, I do not know.
- Will the mainstream join hands with separatists on Article 35-A?
I don’t know. Time will show whether our path converge or diverge.
- But what can the opposition or the mainstream do? In Kashmir, separatists call the shots.
They will soon see the shots. It will be clear where the money came from, who gave them money. What is the utilization of that money? How many houses did they build? How many shops did they make?
- So you trust the NIA probe?
I am looking forward to its completion. I am myself complaining to them that Geelani sahab collected Rs 3 crore for the construction of Chrari Sharif shrine although he does not believe in these Ziyarats. What happened to those Rs 3 crore? The day I came to power, the money was removed from the J&K Bank overnight.
- Then should NIA also investigate the money trail of mainstream politicians as so much of money is pumped in J&K elections.
Why do they not investigate who got the money? I am also a leader of a political party and I never got money from outside, money from India, money from America, or money from Pakistan.
- Has Indian state also funded political parties here?
The investigations will show which were the parties that were funded and why were they funded. A political party was funded just to destroy NC. They think the day they will destroy NC, they will win Kashmir but they are living in a fool’s paradise.
- When you were in power, you talked of bombing Pakistan administered Kashmir and sent separatists to jails. In opposition you are advocating Indo-Pak bonhomie and talks with separatists.
They killed our people, burned our schools, bridges and hospitals, and raped our women. I am on record having said, ‘Bomb the b*****ds.’ Who would like their sisters being raped, tolerate their house being burnt. This is what they did in 1990s. The only thing they achieved was more Indian troops and AFSPA. Who brought this on to us? Today, a soldier can enter our house, search it and do whatever he likes. If they had not done this, not done the 1947 raids, our future probably would have been different. Maharaja of Kashmir neither wanted to join India nor Pakistan. He was forced to join India when Pakistan started tribal raids as he did not have anything to defend himself. This is what Karan Singh himself said in the parliament. There is no other way than talks to resolve issues. Pakistan is our neighbour as is China. Either we live in friendship with them, survive and progress or live in permanent animosity and suffer death and destruction.
- And how do you see China venturing into Kashmir through CPEC?
China is on our border. Part of our State, Aksai Chin is with China. CPEC is coming up in the territory that belongs to us. That corridor is going through our State.
- Why do you lose temper sometimes?
At times, it hurts when I see how people are provoked against me. In early nineties, I was able to see venom in the eyes of youth who were told that I was an Indian agent but I told them that gun will only bring destruction. I asked them to shun this path of violence. They did not pay heed and look what happened. During Jagmohan’s rule after my dismissal in 1984, Abdul Gani Lone (the Peoples Conference founder) told me that he would leave for Pakistan and bring the gun which was the only solution to Kashmir now and that it would fetch us Azadi. I tried to persuade him not to. He realized it but too late. Today, his son knows that his father’s killers were ISI people.
- Had you been in place of Atal Bihari Vajpayee when your government passed the autonomy resolution, what would you have done?
If I were the PM of India, I would have put the autonomy resolution before the parliament. I would at least have the courage to do so instead of hiding behind the statement that ‘We have to abrogate Article 370.’ However, I would never have been the PM of India because they don’t want a just man. I would have treated each religion equally.
- But you wanted to become the Vice President?
I never wanted to be although they offered the post to me. They again offered it to me when I had the kidney failure but I said I cannot do justice with the job.
- Why then is NC promoting dynastic politics. Why is only a Farooq Abdullah or an Omar Abdullah leading NC or becoming the party’s CM candidates? Why not an Abdul Rahim Rather or an Ali Muhammad Sagar?
It is not dynastic politics. Omar has shown his worth. He is not there because he is my son but because he is a million times better than me. What he is today is due to his own worth. When he resigned after Gujarat, Vajpayee called me and begged me to ask Omar not to leave.
- Omar could have been the poster boy for India, a Muslim and that too a Muslim Kashmiri representing Hindu India’s leadership.
He does not want to be the poster boy of India. His struggle is for the people here.
For the first part of the interview visit http://www.risingkashmir.com/news/scrap-art-35-a-and-get-ready-for-battle-farooq-to-goi