National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah may have inadvertently exposed exactly what emboldens separatists so much that they can talk of a separate or "independent" Kashmir. He said on Thursday that stone-pelters in the Valley are "fighting" for their "nation." But is this really what he believes in? Or is he just being an opportunist at a time when he's all set to contest Lok Sabha bypolls?
Farooq's statement came barely days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to choose between tourism and terrorism. Stone-pelters have been a constant menace in the state, often seen disturbing security forces operating against terrorists.
Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat had recently warned that youngsters found pelting stones during anti-terrorist operations would also be treated as terrorists. A J&K top cop had echoed the sentiments when saying such youths were "committing suicide" by disturbing anti-terror proceedings.
Speaking at an NC press conference, Farooq Abdullah said: "I want to tell Modi sahab that tourism is our life — no doubt about that — but a stone-pelter has nothing to do with tourism." He was playing on Modi's recent request to J&K youth to let the state develop even more as a tourist hub.
Farooq added that the stone pelters "will risk starvation but they will throw stones for the nation." He insisted that "that's what we need to understand."
Overt support for separatists?
Farooq Abdullah's statements are being seen as an overt show of support for separatists who want an "independent" Kashmir and often resort to violence to that end. They have also been accused time and again of misguiding youngsters in the Valley to take up cudgels — or in some cases, stones — against anything that is representative of the Indian administration.
There have been instances of these stone-pelters getting killed because they came in the middle of an anti-terror operation. The separatists then tend to flare up sentiments by claiming that it was the security forces' fault that these stone-pelters died. But does the National Conference & Farooq Abdullah really care? It's time for the voters to decide.