Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has defended his decision to skip the India Today Conclave, saying ensuring that there were no communal clashes in Rajouri town was more important than attending the meet in Delhi.
“My job was to ensure we avoided the possibility of serious communal clashes in Rajouri. The rest is unimportant,” Mr. Abdullah wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
The Chief Minister was responding to a barrage of tweets on his page as his followers and critics wanted to know the reason behind his decision to skip the conclave where controversial author Salman Rushdie spoke.
“Miss the conclave I'm afraid of an author. Come to Delhi and a communal clash breaks out in Jammu, I'm incompetent. Honestly I'm glad I missed,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.
The Chief Minister said he believed that Rushdie was not aware of who he is and would not care whether he attended or not.
“Plus Salman Rushdie doesn't even know I exist. So do you really think he gives a toss whether I was there or not?” he said.
Mr. Abdullah said he was facing a situation where “the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and others [were] itching to inflame passions. So, I have no regrets about the decision to stay in Jammu.”
“And I don't need lectures on free speech from the people who chased out M.F. Husain for using a paint brush,” he added.