Punishing relatives of militants against natural justice: Omar Abdullah

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Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Monday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre for not conducting the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the ruling party lacks the courage to face voters as they have failed to mitigate people’s problems.

Omar while addressing the public meeting at the Bajalta area of the outskirts of Nagrota constituency in Jammu – the first after the abrogation of Article 370 – said they (BJP) have also not been able to keep their promise of bringing large-scale investments and creating job opportunities in the Union Territory.

“They are not ready to face the people and are escaping from (assembly) elections on one pretext or the other. They used the pretext of delimitation of constituencies and revision of electoral rolls which stands completed long back. They talked about the weather not being conducive but have no justification to further delay the polls,” he said.

The NC vice president said the BJP has only two reasons for delaying the polls further: one could be the worsening security situation which they claim has improved, and the second is that they are afraid to face the voters.

The former chief minister further said that despite many differences, both Jammu and Kashmir share common sufferings. “Nobody can deny the differences between Kashmir and Jammu as far as weather and culture is concerned but what we witness today is that both the regions are having common sufferings; people are annoyed and gripped by despondency,” he said.

Referring to the anti-encroachment drives in the Union Territory, Omar Abdullah said he was surprised to see the pictures when they took out a bulldozer rally in Kashmir to frighten the public.

“Welfare governments procure ambulances, school buses, vehicles for transports and other public goods but the present regime purchases bulldozers. I was assumed by seeing the pictures of bulldozers, which are hundreds in number, procured by the government to demolish homes,” he said.

When people protested and the situation became tense, the bulldozer drive was stopped at the behest of Delhi, he claimed. He said after the demolition drive was stopped, they frightened people with the tax. “They are saying only a handful of income will be generated but if that is the case, then what is the need for imposing the tax to harass the public,” he asked.

The former chief minister said that for the first time, he is witnessing “a government which feels happiness in inflicting difficulties on the people”.

“It is better to get rid of this government as soon as possible,” he said.

Omar said those who celebrated the abrogation of Article 370 in Ladakh and Jammu are equally sad.

“We were angry from day one but there were some people who celebrated it with the hope of ‘Naya J-K’. The people in Jammu suffered economically because of the stopping of the darbar move and anti-encroachment drive, while Leh people are openly expressing that they were happy to be part of J-K,” he said.

The NC leader said that no militant was given government jobs by the previous Jammu and Kashmir dispensations and asserted that his party would not support any policy to punish the relatives of militants saying “it is against natural justice”.

“No militant was given a (government) job but we did not punish people because they were relatives of militants. Is it fair for me to punish you for the crime committed by your father or a son? Tomorrow, if God forbid a close relative of (Lt Governor) Manoj Sinha Sahab commits a crime, should he be sent to jail?” he said.

The former chief minister was responding to a question on Sinha’s recent allegations that the previous governments in Jammu and Kashmir provided jobs to militants and their families and facilitated one lakh backdoor appointments.

“Natural justice is not that relatives are punished for the crimes of someone else. Nobody is advocating that hardcore militants should be given government jobs but it is also wrong to punish somebody just because they have the misfortune of being related to a militant,” he said, adding, “This is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the people. This is not something we will ever support.”

On Sinha’s statement that 47 employees were dismissed for anti-national activities, Omar Abdullah said, “I am not going into a war of words… If for lakhs of appointments, all you can find is a list of 47 then that is next to nothing.”

Omar accused the Jammu and Kashmir administration of playing with the future of job aspirants by engaging a tainted company to conduct recruitment examinations.

“We want an inquiry on how APTECH, which is blacklisted across the country, was given a contract and where the scams had taken place,” he said.

“We heard the contract was cancelled but the youth are still not happy. You (LG) need to reassure the youth,” Omar said, alleging that the Jammu and Kashmir administration is not making any attempt to resolve the issues of the people.

Abdullah also took a dig at the administration over an alleged imposter, Kiran Patel, who was arrested in Srinagar early this month and said “the deserving are not getting their rights but the frauds are getting benefited”.

“Instead of finding the reality of Patel before treating him as a VIP, they bowed before him. My colleagues who faced (militant) attacks were not given an escort, he (Patel) was given adequate security, five-star accommodation and taken to LoC with many officers lined up to seek recommendations for transfer and promotions,” he said.

Omar also came in defence of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his ‘women are still being sexually assaulted’ remark, saying he did not say anything wrong and there is nothing unusual in his statement.

“Is this not a fact that sexual violence is prevalent in India? Do we need Rahul Gandhi to tell us that? Open any newspaper, do we not hear cases of rape so what did Rahul Gandhi say that is so unusual,” he told reporters. (KNO)

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