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Omar Abdullah challenges 'unaware' Modi to public debate on Article 370

Srinagar, Dec.5 : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday ridiculed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi, stating that those who have no knowledge about the state or Article 370 are making public statements.


Referring to Modi's 'Lalkar' rally on Sunday, where he demanded a public debate on Article 370 that accords a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said: "I am surprised that people who don't know about Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370, give comments on it. Article 370 is the foundation for the state, which connects Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India.

"We are ready for a debate on Article 370, whenever they want, even if it requires going to Ahmedabad for it, we are ready to talk about it," he added.

He further attacked Modi for being ill informed about the people here, while stressing on the level of awareness of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

"Those people who are aiming for top posts know very little about the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Modi said that injustice is done to the Gujjar people of Kashmir. I want to ask him where? Probably this is the region where Gujjars are given Schedule Tribe status," he said.

"If Modi wanted to talk about this, he should have made this statement in Rajasthan, where Gujjars sacrificed their lives to get that Scheduled Tribe status," he added.

Abdullah also highlighted Modi's limited knowledge regarding Shia Muslims, and asked why did he not mention Kashmiri Pandits during his speech in Jammu.

"You (Modi) spoke of Shias, and you said that they are not given justice. I want to ask him what does he know about Shias? Our Gujarat Chief Minister doesn't even know that during Muharram, we mourn and not celebrate it. This is the level of awareness you have," he said.

"Modi did not mention Kashmiri Pandits during his Jammu speech, but we are the ones who say the valley is incomplete without them," he added.

He further asserted that the National Conference could benefit only if all communities in the region stay united.

"I raised voice against AFSPA. I will not leave my mission till I don't free the state from AFSPA, even if I remain in power or not," he said.

"We are not the ones who divide people. We are not the ones who believe in making people fight amongst each other. The National Conference benefits only if everyone remains united," he added.

Modi had said at his 'Lalkar' rally in Jammu on Sunday that there should be a thorough debate on the issue of Article 370, which gives special and autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He also made a reference to India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, saying: "Nehru had said that in the future, the importance of Article 370 will fade out,"

--ANI (Posted on 05-12-2013)

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