Mehbooba Mufti opposed withdrawal of AFSPA from J&K when I was CM: Omar Abdullah

SRINAGAR — National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Tuesday accused PDP president Mehbooba Mufti of opposing the withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir when he was the chief minister.

“I have not forgotten this thing. When I was talking about the removal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) from here (in 2012-13), Mehbooba Mufti, who is PDP president, said Omar Abdullah is disrespecting the Army.

“She said the talk about the revocation of AFSPA is belittling the Army. That is where the opposition to revocation of AFSPA came from,” Abdullah told reporters in north Kashmir Kupwara district after an election meeting.

He was reacting to a statement of Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari that time had come for the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir to go back to the barracks.

“I had tried to send them back to the barracks in 2012 and 2013. That time the conspiracy was hatched by the party with which Bukhari was affiliated at that time. Today, they are talking about sending the army back to barracks. It is good. Better late than never,” he said.

Asked about the crisis in the National Conference (NC) in Kargil on giving support to the INDIA bloc candidates for Ladakh Lok Sabha seat, Abdullah said he cannot do anything which is beyond his control.

“To stand by our commitment to the INDIA bloc, the National Conference party has disappeared there (Kargil) because we clearly told our colleagues in Kargil that if we have to support anyone and help anyone to win, it should be Congress candidate T Namgyal.

He said the NC’s colleagues in Kargil unfortunately did not accept it and decided to leave the party en masse. Expressing regret over the development, he said he had repeatedly visited Kargil after 2019 and rebuilt the NC there with a lot of difficulty.

“We cannot do anything about something that is not in our control but still I will appeal to people with National Conference in Leh and Kargil, if there are any left, to vote for Namgyal,” he added.

The entire Kargil unit of the NC on Monday resigned from the party saying the party high command was pressurising them to support Congress candidate Namgyal.

Qamar Ali Akhoon, who was the additional general secretary and party in-charge for Kargil, said the political and religious organisations in Kargil had decided to support independent candidate Haji Hanifa for the Lok Sabha election. He said it was not possible for him to go against the “local consensus”.

Under the seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and the NC, the two parties had agreed to field three candidates each for the six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. While the NC has fielded candidates on three seats in the Kashmir valley, the Congress has fielded its candidates on two seats in Jammu and one in Ladakh.

A similar situation had arisen in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, which were contested by the NC and the Congress in a pre-poll alliance.

NC leader Ghulam Hassan Khan had rebelled against the party decision to concede the mandate for Ladakh Lok Sabha seat to Congress leader P Namgyal and contested, and won, as an independent candidate.

Khan, who defeated Namgyal by a margin of 3,000 votes, supported the Congress-led UPA-II government on the advice of Farooq Abdullah. — (PTI)