Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Wednesday mooted the idea that all constituents of the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) would contest the coming Assembly elections together to keep BJP and its B and C teams from dividing votes.
He, however, added that the final decision lies with the PAGD leaders.
While speaking to reporters at party headquarters, Nawa-e-Subh, Omar said, “I am not an office-bearer of the PAGD, but this is my personal opinion that the PAGD should contest elections unitedly to keep BJP and its B and C teams from dividing votes. But the end decision lies with the PAGD itself.”
His statement comes amid reports that Delimitation Commission is going to submit its final report within days,
PAGD is a political alliance between the six-party regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir formed by Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. The alliance seeks the restoration of Article 370 and statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah welcomed the Supreme Court’s announcement that petitions regarding the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution would be listed after the summer vacation.
“Der aaye, durust aaye’. We are well-acquainted with the fact, that because of COVID, the day-to-day functioning of not just the Supreme Court but also the High Courts and Sessions Courts have been affected, because of which the hearing on our petitions could not begin. But, we laud the Chief Justice saying that the hearing will begin after the summer vacation. The hearing will take place before a 5 judge-bench,” he said.
He appealed to the Chief Justice of India to hold the hearings on a fast-track basis and said that if there is a delay in the judgment, then the changes made after 2019 would be impossible to reverse.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre abrogated the provisions of Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Criticizing the power cuts in Kashmir at Sehri and Iftar hours during the holy month of Ramzan, Abdullah said it is being deliberately done to hassle them.
“Curtailment of electricity at Sehri and Iftar hours is being deliberately done to hassle us. Are you playing with our sentiments? If your intention is not to play with our sentiments, then give power during Sehri and Iftar hours and cut it at other hours of the day,” he said.
Omar also criticised the Hijab ban and said that it was a religious obligation and no government has the right to interfere in religious matters.
“We are a secular country. People should have the freedom to follow their religion the way they want. No government should interfere in how people follow their religion,” he said.
Further speaking on the loudspeakers issue, the National Conference leader said, “Why can’t loudspeakers be allowed at mosques when they’re being used in other places? We’re being told that halal meat shouldn’t be sold. Why? We aren’t saying mics shouldn’t be installed at temples, gurudwaras. You don’t like only all that we do.”
“Jammu and Kashmir agreed to accession with India when we were told that all religions will be seen with equal eyes here. At that time, if it had been told that one religion would be given more importance than others here, then, maybe our decision would’ve been different,” he added.