Omar Abdullah, National Conference vice-president, on Monday promised abrogating the Public Safety Act (PSA) entirely if his party comes to power in Jammu and Kashmir, and called for a separate Prime Minister for the state. Addressing a public meeting in Kashmir's Bandipora, Abdullah’s response came after BJP chief Amit Shah claimed that revoking Article 370 and 35A from Kashmir would resolve its issue.
"Modi said in an interview that by 2020, we will repeal article 35A. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had threatened us that Article 35a and Article 370 will be removed, but Jammu and Kashmir is not like the other states. Other states became a part of India without any conditions. We made conditions. We did not come for free," Republic TV quoted Abdullah as saying.
Party vice President Mr. Omar Abdullah at an election campaign rally in Bandipore today. With each passing day, people reposing faith on party leadership and its candidate continue to grow. Senior leader Mian Altaf, PP Nasir Aslam Wani also present. #JKNC #OnlyHal #HalhiHalHai pic.twitter.com/JQVH66LraX— JKNC (@JKNC_) April 1, 2019
"To maintain our identity distinct, we entered certain things in the Constitution. We said our identity would be ours, we will have our own law, our own flag. At that time we also had our President and Prime Minister, and we will bring that back," he added.
“In our tenure from 2009-14, we attempted to bring some relaxation in PSA Act, we had removed the toughest parts from it but still today it is being highly misused,” he said.
Senior party leader and MLC Aga Syed Mahmood addressed a meet of party workers at Harinara Pattan and impressed on them to ensure victory of party candidate Mohammad Akbar Lone. #JKNC #OnlyHal #HalhiHalHai pic.twitter.com/Fz95Dkt1rW— JKNC (@JKNC_) April 1, 2019
“Even today so many youths, our elders are struggling in prisons. I had tried that this Act not be misused but my attempts didn’t materialise completely. Now this time we have decided not to relax the law but remove it completely from the books of law, we will not keep the law,” announced Abdullah said.
Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at Abdullah over his statement and asked the Congress and Mahagatbandhan leaders to make clear their stand.
#WATCH Omar Abdullah in Bandipora says, "Baaki riyasat bina shart ke desh mein mile, par humne kaha ki humari apni pehchan hogi, apna constitution hoga. Humne uss waqt apne 'Sadar-e-Riyasat' aur 'Wazir-e-Azam' bhi rakha tha, Inshallah usko bhi hum wapas le aayenge." pic.twitter.com/mPPoELKT8G— ANI (@ANI) April 1, 2019
Addressing an election rally in Hyderabad, Modi said there were media reports that Abdullah has stated there should be a separate Prime Minister for Kashmir.
"Two Prime Ministers for Hindustan? Do you agree with it? Congress has to answer and all the 'Mahagathbandhan' partners have to answer. What are the reasons and how dare he say that", he said.
Modi said he also wants to ask Trinamool Chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar whether they agreed with Omar Abdullah's statement.
"I want to ask Bengal Didi who shouts a lot, do you agree with it? answer the people. U-turn (Chandrababu) Babu with whom Farooq Abdullah campaigned recently in Andhra Pradesh. Do you think Naidu should get votes?
NCP's Sharad Pawar and former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, whose son is Karnataka CM, should also answer. Would you like to go with them (Mahagathbandhan) or break away from them?", Modi said.
On the vexed Kashmir issue against the background of BJP leaders favouring abrogation of Article 370, Abdullah had mentioned about J&K having a separate Prime Minister years ago and whether it needed to be restored to protect the state's identity.
While interacting with news agency PTI on Sunday, Abdullah favoured early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and has expressed the hope that the people of the state will give mandate for a single party rule, instead of a coalition government in the state as has been witnessed since 2002.
The former chief minister said assembly election in the state can be held in a three-to-five week period soon after the Lok Sabha polls are over as adequate security forces will be available.
The final phase of Lok Sabha election is on May 19 and the counting of votes is on May 23.
The National Conference vice-president said he had no reason to believe that Election Commission was not looking at the possibility of conducting the assembly election in the state at the earliest.