With fiery statements like ‘Pakistan not wearing bangles to let India take PoK’ to keeping mum on stone pelted by women and kids in Kashmir.
Dr. Farooq, finally breaks his silence on issues like Hurriyat, PoK and a lot many topics and answers questions that have been long-awaited to be responded to.
Read on to know the never before made revelations in this exclusive interview by HW News Network Managing Editor, Mr. Sujit Nair.
Sujit Nair: Dr Farooq Abdullah is not only a very very senior leader in India but he has also been a very prominent voice in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sir Such an honour to be sitting and talking to you.
Farooq Abdullah: Thank you for coming to Srinagar where the temperature is 3 degrees and you’re coming from 29 degrees.
Sujit Nair: Thank you so much. Sir I’ll directly get into questions
Sujit Nair: Do you believe that Pakistan is the single largest perpetrator of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir?
Farooq Abdullah: There is no doubt about it. We know right from 89, militancy has been promoted by Pakistan for its own interest because the dispute between India and Pakistan has been since the two demeanours have formed. And since they were not able to achieve any dialogue with India to get to grips with the situation of settling this problem, I think they resorted to militancy. And terrorism has been something we have faced for all these years since 89.
Sujit Nair: From a senior leader like you a statement like “Pakistan not wearing bangles to let India take PoK” wouldn’t that send a wrong signal?
Farooq Abdullah: I don’t think so. For the last 70 years that has been a part of Pakistan. Also, if you remember, 1965-war we captured an area of Haji Pir in Poonch a very important area, strategically for us because the road from Poonch to Uri would have been hardly one and half hours or 2 hours’ journey. We captured that losing lot of soldiers and officers in that war but in Tashkent that territory was returned back to Pakistan. Second, Chamb, a major area in Jammu, was also given to Pakistan. Why is it that the government of India over the years has maintained the sanctity of LOC showing fully well that that is their part and this is our part?
Sujit Nair: End of the day Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is a place where it is Indian land which is occupied by Pakistan. We had done the same with the British and said British are cowards and they will not run away so had British never occupied our land, we never would have been an independent India.
Farooq Abdullah: Why is it? When the war took place and the accession was signed by the Maharaja because then only the Indian troops could enter into the state they could not enter into a state which was not part of India. Why was it that the war was stopped when we were advancing at a rapid speed? Why did they not take that territory at that time? Or since then you had 3-4 wars. Why didn’t you take that territory?
Sujit Nair: Sir, the government has changed, the outlook towards Pakistan has changed, the outlook towards Kashmir has changed so possibly this is a new government with a completely new agenda.
Farooq Abdullah: I don’t think so. Even this government I don’t think has the guts to go in for war because both are atomic weapon holders
Sujit Nair: Are you saying that we should look at Pakistan we should not look at PoK we should not look at retrieving PoK because there could be a war and then Pakistan has atomic power so we should be scared of it?
Farooq Abdullah: When Vajpayee ji went to Pakistan, in a bus ride if you remember, he spoke to Nawaz Sharif who was the Prime Minister then and offered to him that let that be Pakistan and let this territory be India so that this difference between the two lands, between the two Nations would disappear and this animosity would end and probably we would progress further.
Sujit Nair: But the problem is two things that the people say is one is a statement coming from somebody like you Sir “Look you know what, we should not mess around with Pakistan we should not mess around with PoK” that sends a lot of wrong signals (a) to the international community (b) to Pakistan themselves and (c) to our own forces. Aren’t such statements absolutely irresponsible?
Farooq Abdullah: I have never said that our forces are not capable. The point is, are we ready to have a nuclear war? For what? A territory that has not been part of us for 70 years? If that territory has not been for 70 years are we ready to really go for a nuclear war in this day and age? Rather we should use diplomatic channels is settle the matter by talking to each other!
Sujit Nair: Do you honestly think there can be a diplomatic settlement because year after year promises after promises are broken. Militancy perpetration is becoming an order of the day. Somewhere down the line in order to save their economy and their internal political issues they are targeting us and creating unrest in especially in this part of the country. Do you think that unless and until we do show them and tell them that look you know what we have other options too, do you think that there can be solutions?
Farooq Abdullah: Why have they not used this option? Who has stopped them from using that option? Farooq Abdullah has never stopped them from using that option. But are they going to use that option? It is for the government to decide, not for Farooq Abdullah to decide.
Sujit Nair: But a person like you making a statement in India does matter!
Farooq Abdullah: I made that statement because I know there is no other way out. I’m not a stupid fellow. I know it is not possible for us to take that land nor is it possible for them to take this land as Vajpayee himself said on the border of Pakistan in Teetwal area and he said, “Friends can be changed, neighbours cannot be changed.
Sujit Nair: The same time when he made the statement he also made a statement that “Kashmir ka masla, hum insaaniyat se faisla karenge” and right after that was the Kargil war.
Farooq Abdullah: He said, “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur Jammuriyat mein hum faisla karenge.” Where is that ‘insaaniyat’? Where is that ‘Jammuriyat’? Where is it? For God’s sake how long are you going to have this tragedy on us? How long? How long are you going to see people die on the two sides? Women, children, young and old, our soldiers, our officers and their soldiers and officers dying on the other side. How long? How long are you going to see widows everywhere?
Sujit Nair: Sir but this can’t be a one-sided decision can it be? It can be a decision from India which where India decides that we will end this war.
Farooq Abdullah: India says we’re not going to talk until terrorism stops. Terrorism is not going to stop unless India talks. If you want to wait till the last bullet is fired, then that talk will never happen. Take it from me, it will never happen. We have to take the bull by the horns and start talking and tell them that this is not going to change. We are part of India here; we’re not going to become a part of Pakistan. India has to say it very clearly and where they are intruding into us they have to go back and where we are intruding into them, we should come back.
Sujit Nair: The issue is about terrorism, the issue is about militancy, the issue is about not a war with Pakistan.
Farooq Abdullah: Terrorism is all over the world. It is not only we who are facing terrorism. Is Pakistan not facing terrorism in its own country?
Sujit Nair: But it is not India perpetrated Sir.
Farooq Abdullah: What is happening in Balochistan? Pakistan is clearly telling you that Balochistan is being perpetrated by India. How long are the two nations going to destroy each other? How long? Look at us! Look at how our tourism has totally collapsed! We have no industry, none! Our waters were handed over in a world agreement to Pakistan. Who did it? Jawaharlal Nehru from the Indian side and Field Marshal Ayub Khan from Pakistan’s side. We can’t even draw a little water from our own rivers without asking their permission.
Sujit Nair: Are you saying that the initial deal or initial negotiation that happened between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and then the President of Pakistan, was faulted?
Farooq Abdullah: At that time did they realise what we are going through or what we will go through? Did they realise that this will go to such an extent? I am sure that Jawahar Lal must have thought that this is going to be the final line. And the biggest fear that they have today is that India is going to stop their water.
Sujit Nair: But wasn’t it a lack of foresight?
Farooq Abdullah: It’s a lack of understanding between the two nations. This understanding has been perpetuated, has been perpetrated by various regimes. Today it is not two leaders, but two nations who do not understand each other. Each time there is skirmish between two nations do you know who suffers the most in India? The Muslims of India. They get targeted. People don’t realise that they are not Pakistani Muslims. They are Indian Muslims who have sacrificed their lives for India. They forget that. A propaganda is built and Muslims have to suffer.
Sujit Nair: Do you believe that Kashmir is an integral part of India?
Farooq Abdullah: Have I ever denied that? Also, we have never asked for ‘Azaadi’ that the Prime Minister talks about. We said give us our internal autonomy that was worked out under Article-370 in the constitution of India. It’s not even the constitution of Pakistan, China or America.
Sujit Nair: A statement that you made in ‘The Hindu’ was that, “J&K is landlocked by nuclear power and surrounded by nuclear power China Pakistan and India. All three of them have atom bombs. We have nothing but Allah’s name”. So are you saying that Kashmir should be part of India because it has nuclear power or Pakistan has nuclear power, China has nuclear power?
Farooq Abdullah: You have taken me wrongly. What I meant is those who talk of Azaadi, total freedom I told that remember, one side is Pakistan atomic power, one side is India, atomic power, one side is China, atomic power. How the hell are you going to be a free nation with all these territories. It was for the people who were talking of Azaadi. This statement of mine has been taken in a very different manner. It was meant for those people, who talk of Azaadi.
Sujit Nair: In 1999 there was a statement that you made that “India has betrayed us.”
Farooq Abdullah: Why did I say that? Every state of India merged into India. Jammu Kashmir state was the only state in India which did not merge. It was exceeded to India. Accession Treaty was signed on three points. Defence, communication, foreign affairs and currency were handed over to India, rest was all kept for the state of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh. Over the years they had puppet regimes here who gradually eroded that article 370 and left only a shell behind. This was done by conspiracy by the centre and the state leaders. That is why I say you betrayed us. We came with love and all the affection for the nation but you took away what we did not want you to take away.
Sujit Nair: The economists around the world including senior economists in India. Forget about the political aspect but article 370 and 35-A specifically, that if 35-A is removed and if people come in and invest in Srinagar if rest of India comes in and invests in Srinagar, it could be the most developed state in the country. Probably because the beauty it has, natural resources it has, and also the fact that it has naturally intelligent people as they say.
Farooq Abdullah: Not only intelligent but we have an atmosphere which is not polluted.
Sujit Nair: Absolutely correct. Don’t you think that therefore article 35-A especially is actually harming the state?
Farooq Abdullah: Not at all. My father brought into the constitution 99 years of lease for any industrialist who wants to set any industry in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sujit Nair: Why was it that with all this, industries didn’t come to Srinagar why was it that Srinagar didn’t pitch for industry.
Farooq Abdullah: My father pitched like anything, I pitched like anything as a chief minister, went to every single state. So many times to Mumbai or to these industrialists, and said please come in. Tragedy was, that number of industries that had already come in, the 89’ tragedy of the militancy stopped them. To this day if you ask anybody in Mumbai, are you going for a tourist run to Srinagar, they will say ‘No, it is dangerous because Yamraj is sitting here’.
Sujit Nair: 1987 onwards militancy started. I’m talking about 1980s, I’m talking 1970s, I’m talking about 1965, why didn’t industries set up here?
Farooq Abdullah: For God’s sake, if you want to go to our industrial sector, see, how many set up the industry?
Sujit Nair: 1972 to 1987, Jammu and Kashmir never stood in top-10, they were never the top-10 industries?
Farooq Abdullah: Because we were not able to give them power to that extent. We have the water; we don’t have the power. I went myself to Delhi. I was the chief minister. Requested the government of India and Kumara Mangalam was the minister, God bless his soul. He told me Farooq, you take 2 projects, we will build the 7 projects, and those 7 projects will be on a thing we are creating called BOOT. Build, operate and then when we’ve taken our money, we will transfer it back to your state. I signed that without my officers being there because I wanted power. Power for my people, power for the industry so that my people could work in those industries. Where is that?
Sujit Nair: PDP is a part of government of India, why aren’t they doing anything?
Farooq Abdullah: Ask them, that’s the tragedy. If I had that power, the industries would run.
Sujit Nair: Why do you want article 35-A to be integrated?
Farooq Abdullah: Why shouldn’t we have it? Do you want us to be invaded?
Sujit Nair: By whom?
Farooq Abdullah: By the other people, so that they bury the culture of Dogras. Do you know who put the article 35-A? Maharaja of Kashmir in 1927. Why did he put it? He did not want his culture to disappear. He wanted Dogri culture to sustain itself rather than moves by the Punjabis and the others.
Sujit Nair: Maharashtra has its own culture, Gujarat has its own culture, Madhya Pradesh has its own culture, Kerala has its own culture. Do they need article 35-A to maintain their culture? Then why 35-A?
Farooq Abdullah: Kashmiris are very different. Don’t compare us to Maharashtra and Gujarat. Why don’t you talk about North East? Why don’t these industrialists? What stops them from going to North East? Why to Kashmir? Why you only thrusting yourselves on Kashmir? People will resist like anything. We have already one trouble which we can’t overcome. Don’t create another trouble which will be beyond us to control. So don’t prick anymore. Enough is enough. Let’s stop at that.
Sujit Nair: 1987 saw militancy at the peak.
Farooq Abdullah: 89
Sujit Nair: 87 is when it is said it started. Fair enough, 89, you were the chief minister, at that point of time?
Mr. Farooq Adbdullah: I was the chief minister.
Sujit Nair: You resigned.
Farooq Abdullah: When Jagmohan came in.
Sujit Nair: Would you take responsibility to say that a lot of correction could have happened or you could have stopped militancy from taking a shape which it is in now?
Farooq Abdullah: I could not fight Pakistan alone. It is just not possible. It is not Farooq Abdullah’s creation. I’m sorry to say this. I went to the Home Minister. He was sitting in the Parliament. And I wanted 19 companies of CRPF. And the Home Minister said to me at that time, “Why are you worried, everything is going to be alright”. I said no, I see the things developing. Today how many battalions of CRPF, BSF, Army, are there, how many? They could not spare 19 companies of CRPF.
Sujit Nair: Who was the Home Minister at that time Sir?
Farooq Abdullah: You guess. You do research and you will find out. I suffered tremendously.
Sujit Nair: Sir why haven’t you spoken about it?
Farooq Abdullah: There are so many wounds which is better to keep down. Because if you rake the wound, it will only bleed. So it is better, let that wound rest. I’ve had tremendous tragedies. My people faced those tragedies.
Sujit Nair: Never have you put this point across. Why don’t you talk?
Farooq Abdullah: Lot of people say, while the Kashmir was burning, I was in London. Could you find out from them, what dates or how many weeks or months I was there? Just find out. I have a daughter married there. Does a father not have a responsibility to go and see how she is?
Sujit Nair: Going back to 1989, you went to the Central Government, Union Government, you were not given the backup. You are a very suave media-person. You understand media, you play with media. You have the knack and everybody knows it. Why didn’t you talk about the lack of cooperation from the government of India?
Farooq Abdullah: How many things should a chief minister expose in the media? Governments try and settle things behind door. I have complains, I will complain behind doors. It is fools who go to media and speak to media and create further bitternesses than trying to win friends. I have never wanted to create bitternesses and lose friends.
Sujit Nair: Going back to your earlier statement that Indian government has betrayed us, was this part of it, was it somewhere in your heart?
Farooq Abdullah: For instance, since you asked me this, when Jagmohan was sent in 90, when we were fighting I and my party and my government was fighting a great power. They asked the General to resign. General Krishna Rao was my governor. They had some quarrel with him. The government of that day I told them. I met the then Prime Minister VP Singh I met Mufti Sahab who was the home minister, I met Surjeet, Sardar Sujeet who was Sepoy and leader I met at George Fernandes, I met who became the Prime Minister of India later, Chandrashekhar ji, they assured me in this country of India where you have so many people give me a Governor that will be just to the people of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh don’t send me Jagmohan. They promised me it will not happen. I assured them that look if you do so before that midnight I will resign. Then it’ll be battle between the central government and Pakistan and today we are in the middle fighting them. Tomorrow that middle will be gone. It will be direct fight between you and them. Did they listen? Did they take care of what I said? They sent him and on the very first day he came he killed 52 people in downtown. His forces used bullets on the coffin of Maulvi Umar Farooq’s father Maulvi Farooq. This place has not forgotten any of these things. Did they listen to me? They betrayed me, they betrayed the nation.
Sujit Nair: If we were to look back at your illustrious career as a chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir what are the regrets?
Farooq Abdullah: Leave the regrets. The question is when I came in 96 everything was burnt. I restored the state back to normalcy. Thanks to my bureaucrats who helped me. My police officer Jagat who helped me to build a police force that was totally demoralized. We built a state from ashes.
Sujit Nair: Late Mr. Mufti Mohammed Saeed had made a statement “I thank the Hurriyat for a peaceful election.” How much of it do you think it is true?”
Mr Farooq Abdullah: (Chuckles) Well obviously the people who voted for him were more pro-Pakistan than anything else and I think Pakistan uses its influence on them, Hurriyat to make him win and he did win. 16 seats he won. Then Congress didn’t want to sit with us, we had 28 seats and people wanted me to buy the other MLAs so that we could make a government, but I said Aayaram Gayaram is not my job. But if people don’t want me, then I should not be there. So we did not make the government. Though we could have made the government. Congress joined him because he was basically a Congressman. Whether one likes it or not. From 20 years he was the president of Congress. So there you are. It’s our bad luck. Bad luck of the state and bad luck of the nation.
Sujit Nair: Sir there is a rumour that PDP elections were funded from across the border. How much of it is true?
Farooq Abdullah: As far as the elections are concerned for the PDP, the funding was also done by the Prime Minister of India. I know about it. The money came from there. Large amount. In 2002 also.
Sujit Nair: You spoke about taking care of the widows just 3 days back. You spoke about taking care of the widows of the armed forces, people who died, people who sacrificed their lives and who were martyred here. So do you also agree that women and children are now today out pelting stones at the armed forces? Sir you have not made a statement. Not one statement against them. Why Sir?
Farooq Abdullah: First and foremost, let me tell you since you raised war-widows’ problem. And I’m glad I’m on the media which will be seen by many. I request all those intelligent people who will see this. Please put a pressure on the government of India that they appoint a commission for just one point that what is the present condition of those widows who fought for India, who continue to fight for India’s integrity? What is their condition, the condition of their children? What happened after the husband died, this is one. Second, soldiers who fight, how their lands are transferred to somebody else, by crooks, the tehsildars and the Pathwaris while they are fighting for their country.
Secondly, you said about the pelting of the stones. Has anybody, the normal people in India, they have got so many associations of human rights and other things. Have they ever come to see what is paining them? Why are they picking up stones? Why? There must be a reason.
Sujit Nair: We got to know that stone-pelting has reduced drastically in the last couple of months and a lot of people have also lost their livelihood since their job was to pelt stones and they got money out of it. That’s one thing we got to understand, but involving children?
Farooq Abdullah: I haven’t involved them; somebody must have involved them.
Sujit Nair: Sir are you telling me that a 6-year-old child was fighting for justice?
Farooq Abdullah: Do you know in politics of our nation what is being done? People’s votes are bought on 500-rupee notes. Where is that Mahatma Gandhi’s slogan? We use Mahatma Gandhi when we want to and then we want to create a Godse’s temple who murdered him. Where are we? Where is this nation going to? Do you ever realize? It is this hate that is being perpetuated in our nation against one another rather than building a nation where all of us are together, all of us are one and all of us are to fight for this nation.
Sometimes atrocities are committed by the forces whether it’s the police, whether it’s the military, everybody is committing atrocities. Has anyone looked into those Sikhs were murdered in Chittisinghpora? I wanted the judge to enquire into it. And I’m telling this media today. I wanted that judge who came from Madras. I’m grateful to Ram Jethmalani ji, he was law minister. I said give me an honest judge, retired judge. He came and investigated in Anantnag. They had picked 5 men from the shops and said they are the murderers. We proved that they were the shopkeepers who were lifted from the shops. Can you imagine what my police story was? These people who were asking for “Insaaf” please give us who killed these people who are responsible for this. They marched from their village, came through three military check posts. Never did they say ‘Hindustan Murdabad’ or anything against India. They just wanted ‘Insaaf’. They were marching as you approached Anantnag town, DC and DSP said, “Make sure they do not enter the town”. They were fired upon. I was in Jammu. I was in Jammu with my police chief Jagat, the most upright police officer who later even became Governor of Manipur. He was with me. I landed with helicopter in that area and I looked at it and I asked the officers that what happened. They said, they were coming, they fired on us. I said, Is anyone of you injured? They said No. I called the judge. Thank God. He proved that this was all made up this is a fire Donna is anyone of you enjoyed anyone you get thank God he proved I am telling you what Delhi told him. You will not investigate. Here is the ticket for your children to go to America you go and see.
Sujit Nair: Are you saying that Delhi is allowing atrocities?
Farooq Abdullah: God only knows what Delhi is doing and Delhi knows. Why is it not being investigated? 3 people were lifted. They were shot dead and do you know what explanation they gave? They were wearing Khan-suits. So we thought they were terrorists. I also wear a Khan-dress. My son wears a Khan-dress. People here wear Khan-dresses all the time.
Sujit Nair: Sir why would Delhi want to perpetrate such things?
Farooq Abdullah: I don’t know! Ask them, don’t ask me. I want justice as much as rest of the country gets it. We must get the same justice in state if we are part of India.
Sujit Nair: A lot of people in this state call Burhan Wani a freedom-fighter. What would you call him?
Farooq Abdullah? What do you mean by freedom fighter? He fought for some cause that he believed in. Not that I believe in or my party believes in. He believed in a cause. But then he’s a freedom fighter.
Sujit Nair: Would you call him a terrorist?
Farooq Abdullah: I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a part of the nation. To me it is India that matters.
Sujit Nair: And he went against the same India.
Farooq Abdullah: There is not only one? What is Gilani talking of?
Sujit Nair: Will Dr. Farooq Abdullah call Burhan Wani a terrorist?
Farooq Abdullah: What Farooq Abdullah will call will depend on Farooq Abdullah what he wants to call. When I’ll go on to fight elections, will you come and help me? No. I have to fight on my own. And I have to consider every pro and con.
Sujit Nair: I got my answer on that.
What role does Hurriyat play in Jammu and Kashmir? Some of them have been proven to be funded by Pakistan. What role are they playing?
Farooq Abdullah: Why you are saying they are only funded by Pakistan? I can prove to you they have been funded by India. By the Indian government they have been funded. That should destroy the National Conference. The biggest enemy they used to feel is National Conference. To this day I can tell them on their faces. They funded the very people who stood for destroying India. What was the need of funding them? What for?
Sujit Nair: Is Hurriyat relevant?
Farooq Abdullah: You have made it relevant Sir. They are relevant. Your Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma is coming. He has to talk to them. Delhi government made them relevant. Whether it was Congress or any other government. They funded them. Now since you have summoned an elephant in the room, you might as well deal with because you have simply boycotted us. Yes! You made them relevant.
Sujit Nair: The last question what do we see you as in 2019? Would you be in Centre?
Farooq Abdullah: I’m here, in Kashmir. I’ll keep on fighting for the people and I’ll keep on fighting for the rest of the country.
Sujit Nair: Are you open for an alliance with NDA like you did before? Are you open for an alliance with Congress?
Farooq Abdullah: That will depend on the situation that arises post-election. These are political matters. One has to be very cagey and careful.