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Only an Omar Abdullah could have done it

By Kavita Suri, Jammu, Sept 15 : Has he has or hasn't he? Would he or won't he?...Since past 15 days, rumour mills were rife with speculations about the divorce of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah from his wife Payal Nath whom he had married 17 years ago and his re-marriage to NDTV reporter Nidhi Razdan.


While few sections of media were reporting about his possible marriage to the NDTV journalist, many others wrote about his remarriage to his friend and Home minister Nasir Aslam Wani's doctor sister-in-law.

But the outspoken Omar Abdullah on Thursday put a stop to all these gossips, speculations and rumours and came out with a press statement about his separation with his wife.

"I have noted with considerable dismay and anguish the growing tide of speculation in the media about my private life particularly the status of my marriage.

"While it is true my wife and I have separated, the speculation about motives and about my future course of action are unfounded, untrue and deeply hurtful to all concerned," said the chief minister in a statement which was issued by his office to the press this afternoon while he himself was away in Leh for the closing ceremony of 15-day Ladakh Festival.

He also tweeted parts of his statement on his twitter account before it was released to the media this afternoon.

Only Omar Abdullah could have done it. An honest, straightforward, new generation politician that Omar Abdullah is, only he could have indulged in this plain speak.

Having watched his from close quarters during my years in journalism, I know that while perhaps any other politician would have denied such rumours, would have made public appearances with his wife to show that everything was normal between them and the like but Omar Abdullah would have done what he did on Thursday.

And that is what his fans and friends respect him for - his honest, straightforwardness and simplicity. This is also the reason for his popularity on social media networks like twitter where he has 56,923 followers.

For those who know how simple and honest the 41 year old junior Abdullah is, this statement has come as no surprise.

What has anguished the chief minister is also the fact that while reporting stories about his divorce and remarriage, the media made 'no effort to ask him whether any of this is true and in the process a lot of people have been hurt'.

In the past, though the media and opposition has also dubbed him as 'twitter chief minister' but the man has always remained accessible to them. He not only tries to answer to each and every call or smses and even an email, but is very friendly with all of them.

Then why he was not contacted while writing these stories about his remarriage which he says "were completely false and concocted".

In his statement, he said that the Indian media has a well established, undeclared, code of conduct that keeps the private lives of public figures by and large private. And thus he and his family are also entitled to that privacy.

True to his image, Omar Abdullah has always been a family man for his two sons Zahir,15 and Zamir,12 and wife together. A one-woman man, he has never ever been linked with anyone in the past 17 years of his marriage to Payal Nath, daughter of a Major general in Indian army whom he met when he was working in a private company in Mumbai.

The man who has young sons is concerned about them and who, he says "do not deserve to see themselves splashed across the news channels and pages of newspapers in this manner."

"I am sure you will all appreciate that while my private life has gone through a period of unprecedented upheaval I have not allowed it to affect my work in any way," Omar Abdullah said in his statement.

Indeed, astonishingly, while his life has been under tremendous stress, he has not stopped working. Since past six days while he is away to Dras, Kargil, Zanskar and Leh for his six day tour, he also took pains to come back to Srinagar to inaugurate adventure tourism conference for his had committed to the organizers to inaugurate it.

Since past one year after the 2010 summer unrest in Kashmir, the man has become more responsible and has been working very hard never giving a chance to his detractors to raise fingers on him.

A dignified Abdullah also made "a humble appeal to the media to allow him and his family the space and privacy to deal with what they were going through".

He also added that his family and he will not be issuing any more statements or taking any further questions about any of this.

(The author is a journalist and Associate Professor/Assistant Director at the Department of Lifelong Learning, University of Jammu)

--IBNS (Posted on 15-09-2011)

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