Jammu: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said the gates of his house here were locked by the police and he was escorted to his office like a “criminal” to stop him from visiting Sunderbani area of Rajouri district.
Taking potshots at the BJP and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Singh-led administration, the former chief minister said, “This has not happened for the first time.”
“And as the (Lok Sabha) elections draw closer, I am sure such curbs will witness a spurt,” he told reporters at the party headquarters here.
Abdullah said that the “gates of my house have been locked since this morning” on the pretext of a law and order situation.
“I have taken pictures because I know the police will later deny placing curbs on me,” he added.
The National Conference vice president said that he was planning to visit the Sunderbani area of Rajouri to take part in a party function but was denied permission.
“Even the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) accompanied me to the (party) office like a criminal is being escorted. This is for the first time that the SDPO accompanied me from my house to the office to personally see that my vehicle does not take any other turn,” he said.
The former chief minister reiterated his earlier assertion that democracy is not allowed to reach Jammu and Kashmir.
“They have once again proved it. They are saying everyone is free to carry out political activities, but it is only for those who are praising the BJP and its government,” Abdullah said.
“The people like us who are not government stooges or not involved in BJP flattering face such types of curbs. We are now accustomed to such things,” he added.
Responding to a question that he was denied permission as the authorities were apprehensive that his visit might flare up situation due to tension between the Gujjars and the Paharis after the later were included in the Scheduled Tribes, Omar quipped, “that means the government is weak and I can disturb the situation all alone”.
“I am feeling lucky that I have become so powerful that the government is afraid of me that they need to lock to keep me at home. It is good they are praising me, I have never thought myself so powerful but now I have to rethink it,” he said.
The National Conference leader said the government’s action shows that it has no power, ability and courage.
“It is better for them to leave the government and hand over the power to us who have command over the people and who can provoke or silence the people for the overall betterment of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Abdullah said that his party has always supported the demand of Schedule Tribe status to the Pahari speaking people.
“We have done no discrimination during our rule. We passed a Pahari Reservation Bill in the assembly and the then governor gave his nod to it. We tried to implement the reservation, but we lost the election and the new government did not pay any heed towards it,” Abdullah said.
“If you go back, the demand for ST status for Paharis was raised by (NC president) Farooq Abdullah during his government when Gujjars were given the status by the central government under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. Farooq was asked for a recommendation and without wasting any time, he convened his cabinet and a letter was sent to the then prime minister,” he added.
Asserting the National Conference whenever in power followed the issue with sincerity, Abdullah said, “We have always been in support of ST status to Paharis without snatching the rights of the Gujjars whose quota should be impacted.”
Referring to party MP Hasnain Masoodi’s speech in the Parliament before the Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, which seeks to add four communities — Gadda Brahmin, Koli, Paddari Tribe, and Pahari Ethnic Group — to the list of STs in Jammu and Kashmir, he said that he raised genuine issues as the bill did not speaks about how it is going to be implemented
“Lt Governor administration and the central government should take Gujjars into confidence and make them understand how their share of the quota will be protected. They have concerns which need to be addressed,” Abdullah said.