Earlier this week, National Conference (NC) president and former J&K CM Dr Farooq Abdullah called for the establishment of a ‘Truth Commission’ to uncover the veracity of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and the spate of violent attacks on the community in 1990. In the same breath, he also stated that he was ready to be hanged if proven responsible.
The former chief minister said in an interview with India Today, “The truth will come out if you put an honest judge or a retired judge or a committee of these people together to find out the truth.”
In explaining the nature, profile and mandate of the Truth Commission, he said that it must investigate not only Pandits, but also Sikhs (victims of Chittisinghpora), Muslims who were killed here, and his MLAs, workers, and ministers that were bombed. He also asserted that the Vivek Agnihotri directed film – ‘The Kashmir Files’ – was a propaganda piece.
“It is a propaganda movie. It has really raked up a tragedy of 1990; the tragedy which has affected every soul in the (erstwhile) state, not only Hindu brethren who had to leave the (erstwhile) state but also the Muslim majority, which was greatly affected at that time. It was a sad, very sad situation because there was an element of (political) parties that were interested in ethnic cleansing and some of the people played part in that ethnic cleansing,” he claimed.
According to the publication Greater Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah dismissed the notion that the movie “partly blamed him for not reacting and in fact for being lax in allowing the situation to get out of hand”. He said that he didn’t think it was true. According to him, there are people who can tell the people the bitter truth, if the people want to know it. He maintained that the best way for them to understand them is by talking to (AS) Dulat, the former IB chief, or former J&K chief secretary Moosa Raza.
“When the situation was such and they wanted to release five of those people who we had caught… I had refused to release them. I was the chief minister that time and the Government of India was led by VP Singh and his associates also included BJP. They were supporting the government,” said Abdullah.
“I refused saying – Don’t do it as it will be a terrible tragedy for the nation and it will pay a heavy price for it in future. But they did not listen. So much so, I was told that – if you won’t do it, we would dismiss you. I said – Give me in writing that your cabinet has asked for it as what will happen now, it will be a last nail in the coffin of India in the (erstwhile) state for that. You will be responsible for it,” the NC president said as he mentioned the turn of events after the kidnapping of home minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed.
“I had told them not to give in to the terrorists but they gave in. That is how things blew up. They got emboldened thinking if Russians could be thrown out of Afghanistan, they could also throw India out of Kashmir and we paid a bitter price,” he said while mentioning the Kandahar hijacking.
Farooq Abdullah brought up the former governor (Jagmohan) yet again, whilst also saying that it’s tradition to not rake up the names of the deceased. He said that Governor Jagmohan put the Pandits in the buses and promised them that they would be brought back within two months. He asked, “Because I’ve to use force on these people and in that case, retaliation might take place. Thirty-two years have lapsed. Where are they (Kashmiri Pandits)?” When asked if he meant to say that the former governor was responsible and not himself, the chief minister at the time, Farooq replied, “I was not in charge then.”
He recalled an incident near the old airport when he had paraded the terrorists who had come to kill him, along with the weapons they had recovered before Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister. He recounted that the person had been ready to shoot him but decided not to after realising that the things that he was told about Kashmir were untrue.
In response to a question about who should be blamed for not prosecuting Yasin Malik, Bitta Karate, and other militants in the last thirty years, the NC president said, “Who released Bitta Karate, the NC government or the Government of India?”
“One of the persons released in case of Kandahar-plane hijacking, killed my first cousin when I was canvassing for Nawab Sahib of Bhopal. Same man shot my MLA in Downtown…That’s why I want them to investigate honestly all these killings, rape of those Kashmiri women in Kupwara. So that the nation knows the truth… time has come when the nation must hear the truth and must live with the truth,” he added.
Farooq Abdullah further explained that the way forward would be to win the hearts of the people. “We will have to win the hearts of all people viz., KPs, Sikhs and Muslims, who are part of J&K. Also we’ll have to heal the wounds of people across the nation as this film made them bleed again. The prime minister and his government must need to heal the wounds created by this film before this all goes into a spiral, difficult to handle. When I say wounds, it means hatred against Muslims, against one community. That’s a tragedy,” he said.
It was his opinion that the government’s decision to offer tax rebates to the movie would result in deeper hatred and lead to a tragedy like the Holocaust.
As Farooq stated during the last meeting with the prime minister when he had extended an invitation to them, he requested that he create “trust” to resolve “Dil Ki Doori and Dilli Se Doori“, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also promised to fulfil.