Lok Sabha polls 2024 | Events of August 5, 2019 have left Kashmiris regretting accession: NC candidate

Hundreds of supporters, carrying party flags, attended the NC’s rally as the party’s Srinagar candidate Agha Syed Ruhullah Mehdi entered the district election office

Published - April 25, 2024 11:10 pm IST - SRINAGAR

National Conference leader Agha Syed Ruhullah Mehdi during his nomination filing rally for Lok Sabha elections, in Srinagar, on April 25, 2024.

National Conference leader Agha Syed Ruhullah Mehdi during his nomination filing rally for Lok Sabha elections, in Srinagar, on April 25, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

National Conference (NC) candidate Agha Syed Ruhullah Mehdi filed his nomination papers for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat on Thursday. He used the occasion to refer to August 5, 2019, as “a black day for those who supported the Instrument of Accession” in J&K.

The NC staged a major show of strength. Hundreds of supporters, carrying party flags, held a rally as Mr. Mehdi entered the district election office in Srinagar. The leadership of the party, including Dr. Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah, cheered and addressed supporters.

Moral compass

Mr. Mehdi has emerged as a moral compass for the NC after the Centre downgraded the erstwhile State of J&K into two Union Territories (UT) in 2019, even at times criticising his own party for “not doing enough to restore J&K’s special status”.  

“August 5, 2019 is a black day for us. In the past, I would argue on why we (NC) decided to accede to India, citing the example of greater autonomy to take decisions on our own from Lakhanpur to Karnah and unblemished democratic credentials of the country compared to other countries. We argued on why we rejected the two-nation theory. But August, 2019 has snatched our narrative and argument from us. I have no courage to convince my political opponents, who argue for Azadi (independence), anymore,” Mr. Mehdi said.

He said the people of J&K acceded to India on the promise that no decision on J&K would be taken without considering their views. “J&K was downgraded into two UTs and its Statehood taken away. The people of J&K were humiliated. The Internet and phones were snapped. Many ailing persons died because they could not call for ambulances. All this was done to us without sticking to the basic principle of consultation. Now it seems democracy is better in other parts of the world and not here. Our hearts will not beat the same way with Indian hearts, as it did in the past,” Mr. Mehdi said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abdullah has ensured that the party fielded a covering candidate. This is to avoid a Surat like situation where the BJP candidate won unopposed after all other nominees withdrew.

Covering candidate

“Salman Sagar also filed his nomination as a covering candidate. Once scrutiny takes place, Mr. Sagar will withdraw and fulfill his role by supporting Mehdi,” Mr. Abdullah said. 

NC chief Dr. Abdullah flagged many national issues. He called for change in the Election Commission. “It has to be made independent. The judiciary has to be made independent,” Dr. Abdullah said.

He prayed for the victory of the INDIA alliance, saying “Ambedkar’s Constitution has to be saved”.

Dr. Abdullah, referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Rajasthan, and said, “He (PM) tried to shred the Indian Constitution. The Indian Constitution provides dignity to everyone,” Abdullah said.

The NC chief alleged that PM Modi “wants to create a rift among the people”. He said J&K is set to start “a movement to change the seat of power in Delhi and bring about a revolution.”

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