The eldest daughter of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Awami National Conference President Khalida Shah has said the Government of India has made a big blunder by abrogating Article 370. She said it was an assault on the dignity of people to enslave the Kashmiris.
In an exclusive interview, she said India has control over it because of the gun and there was no point taking part in the Assembly elections in a Union Territory and those advocating Article 371 for Kashmir are traitors.
Q: Did you ever imagine that 370 could be scrapped and 35 A will go?
A: No, I never expected that they will stoop down to this level, but I always knew that they can do such things.
Q: Why did they do it?
A: They are foolish and inexperienced people, they have always used force to rule like in Gujarat or elsewhere. They always crushed people through power. They have got used to doing such things.
Q: What can be the implications of the scrapping of Article 370?
A: They don't seem to have an understanding of the things, they are thinking of destroying Kashmiris, but Kashmiris won't go down alone, they will take them along and will ensure that it happens.
A: Kashmiris are maintaining silence right now, but a day will come when all the pent up anger will spill over, the situation will get out of control then.
Q: There was an impression that if Article 370 goes, people will protest and will come out on the roads and resort to demonstrations. But that has not happened, people have given a different response?
A: This can be because an all-party meeting took place at the Gupkar Road in Srinagar just before the scrapping of Article 370. People were asked to stay peaceful and cautious and not to do something that will complicate things. It struck the people and they did not resort to violence or indulge in stone-pelting. I think God has been merciful.
Q: What, according to you, is the way forward?
A: The way forward is exactly what we are doing right now, using legal means to carry forward our struggle and create awareness. All this is to tell the Government of India that striking down Article 370 is bad for it. If nothing happens, a day will come when people will rise and will be ready to die without caring about anything.
Q: Do you think scrapping Article 370 is an assault on the respect and dignity of people?
A: Yes definitely, it is an attack on the dignity of people. This should not have normally happened because Kashmiris had committed no mistake to deserve this punishment.
Q: But most of the parties in Parliament supported the government move, how do you see that?
A: I think most Parliament members have a clue about history.
Q: What do you think would be the role of the detained leaders' including three former chief ministers now?
A: I think all Kashmiris will have to struggle, this is a calamity that has befallen all of us, doesn't matter whether we are in the mainstream or separatist camp, the mountain has fallen on all of us.
Q: Do you think the Assembly election in the Union Territory has any relevance now?
A: It has no relevance.
Q: Do you think you can take part in the elections now?
A: No, there is no point in taking part in the elections. We should be given our right first. We can't take part in elections. We have been treated as garbage.
Q: Some leaders say Article 370 is gone forever, it won't return, let's now strive to get Article 371 instead?
A: I think anybody who talks about Article 371 should be considered a traitor. We want our Article 370 back in its original shape and form.
Q: Kashmiris are starting to introspect and are looking into history, some people are saying that the decision of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1947 was an error of judgement. He should have done it differently, what do you think?
A: No there can be no error of judgement because Maharaja Hari Singh was the King and owner of this land, he had the power for accession, he had bought Kashmir with its land and people. Maharaja was ready to join with India, what could have Sheikh Abdullah done? Sheikh had to do what was best under the given circumstances to save the lives of his people. If he would have thought of taking any other route at that time; he would not have got that. Sheikh did what he did to save the lives and honour of people, he had no choice.
Q: What do you want to say looking at the situation in Kashmir now?
A: I think we had not done any mistake, we remained with India whatever the circumstances. Now we are being insulted. I am saying leave us to our fate, whatever happens to us that is our problem, you have thrown us away, the relationship has ended.
Q: What according to you is Kashmir's relationship with India now?
A: There is no relation with India now.
Q: But Kashmir is under India's control?
A: Yes, it is holding Kashmir with the gun, nine lakh troops have been deployed here, they have to show their prestige, their strength by the power of the gun. Let them do it without force and we will see.
Q: Imran Khan gave a speech on Kashmir in the UN, Pakistan is raising this issue internationally, what do you have to say about all that?
A: I appreciate it very much. I am thankful to Imran Khan for whatever he said. He supported Kashmiris and pleaded their case, I appreciate it, he spoke there for us, people never used to speak for us even in Pakistan. If somebody is speaking for us, we must appreciate that.
Q: The BJP says Kashmir has been integrated, Article 370 was a hindrance for the development of Kashmir?
A: I have seen the development of Kashmir for the past 70 years, we have free education here, land to tiller was implemented which nobody can think in dreams even in today's era in any state or country, in Kashmir lot of infrastructure was created, roads, schools, etc.
Q: Then, why did the Government of India scrap Article 370?
A: It was done to enslave Kashmiris, but Kashmiris will never accept that.
Q: What do you want to tell Narendra Modi and Amit Shah today?
A: I want to tell them that you have ended your relationship with us, now it is better to save your honour and leave us to our fate. Just leave us, whether we live or die, we have seen your concerns for us, Kashmiris never got relief, you always tried to hurt us.
Q: You say leave us to our fate, but the government says Kashmir has been integrated?
A: Makes no difference what they say, if God will give us strength and is on our side, we will get whatever was due to us. We want to live with honour, we are not saying that we want to rule India from Kashmir, we are saying let us live with freedom and peace, but they don't let us do that.
Q: Do you think that all parties in Kashmir should join the ranks.
A: Definitely, there is no other choice but to stand united.