“I’m questioning continuing in politics, I’ve never been like this” Omar Abdullah

6 days ago

8 min

New Delhi/Srinagar: Advance Press Release:

“I’m deeply jaded, I’m demotivated, I’m questioning continuing in politics, I’ve never been like this, I’m a changed person”: Omar Abdullah to Karan Thapar for The Wire.

In an unprecedentedly candid and personal interview, where he bares open his soul and reveals his self-doubts, loss of motivation and the fact he is struggling with the question of whether he should continue in politics, Omar Abdullah says he is “deeply jaded and demotivated”. “I find it very difficult to motivate myself, I have lost motivation. A certain light inside may not have been switched off but it’s a lot dimmer. I have never been like this.” Omar Abdullah has also accepted that he is struggling with the question whether he should continue in politics. He said he has no easy answers and has lots of doubts.

In a 40-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire on Saturday, January 9, Omar Abdullah said: “The person who went into the detention centre on the 5th of August 2019 is not the person who came out.” He said: “I always believed in what I was doing. I believed what I was doing was right. Now I don’t know where I am at the moment”. He added: “I’m not finding this reality easy to live with.” Omar Abdullah agreed that he was now at a crossroads with several paths in front of him and unsure which direction to take. He said he faced a lot of questions that could not be easily answered. He was, he added, grappling with doubts.

Omar Abdullah told The Wire: “I refuse to be gung-ho and lie about how I actually feel.”

Omar Abdullah accepted that his response to what has happened in Kashmir after August 2019 and the doubts in his mind about both his future, both political and personal, are very different from the fighting spirit shown by his father when The Wire interviewed Farooq Abdullah in September 2020. We’re different people, he said. He has 30 years more of experience. “I’m 50 and believe that I still have two decades ahead to do something with my life.”

In the interview to The Wire Omar Abdullah was questioned about what it’s like be a Kashmiri, a muslim and an Abdullah in Narendra Modi’s India. He spoke at length about all three.

Omar Abdullah said the mood of the people in the Valley was “a mixed bag”. He said, “on the whole people feel deeply disaffected”. Omar Abdullah said there’s always been a section of the Kashmiri people that do not identify with India. That section has grown since 2019. He said the number of youngsters joining militancy has also grown.

Omar Abdullah told The Wire that the Kashmiri people viewed the government and, in particular, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, “with a fair degree of worry and fear”. He said, “fear would be the accurate word”. He added they do not expect justice from this government. He said the anger and unhappiness of the Kashmiri people are not recognized by the government. He said Jammu and Kashmir is treated differently from other parts of the country.

However, Omar Abdullah said he still places faith in the Supreme Court although he is anguished by its complete lack of urgency in handling Jammu and Kashmir cases. He called it “inexplicable and mindboggling”. Responding to the Chief Justice’s stand that the Supreme Court can turn the clock back if it chooses to, he asked: “How will the Court turn the clock back? Will things not have become a fait accompli?”

Omar Abdullah said the lack of protests in the Valley cannot be interpreted as popular acceptance of what has happened. He said after August 5, 2019 thousands were arrested and there was no space for popular dissent. He said even his sister and aunt were arrested.

Speaking to The Wire about the Abdullah family, which have been accused by the BJP and even by the Prime Minister of not just mis-governance but of loot and making money at the cost of the Kashmiri people, Omar Abdullah said: “Honestly I have long given up the urge to prove my patriotism. I know who I am and what I stand for. How often do I have to keep proclaiming it?”

Asked by The Wire how it feels to be an Abdullah in Narendra Modi’s India, when politicians and sections of the media accuse him, his father and his grandfather of being anti-national and pro-Pakistani, Omar Abdullah said: “It hurts but I’m used to it now. I have learnt to live with it.”

In a particularly heartfelt and poignant moment Omar Abdullah spoke about his personal predicament. He said: “I will never be Indian enough for a section of the media. On the other hand, for a section of Kashmiris I’m not Kashmiri enough. I fall between two stools. However, I’m reconciled to that. I don’t aspire to acceptance. I have learnt to be true to myself.”

Speaking about how muslims are treated in India, Omar Abdullah was asked if they feel like second class citizens and replied: “That’s a reality. There is not doubt on that.”

Speaking of himself, Omar Abdullah said that he has not personally experienced prejudice but added “my place in society is not typical of muslims in India”.

The above is a paraphrased precis of Omar Abdullah’s interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire. Although recounted from memory it’s not inaccurate. However, please see the full interview for a better appreciation and understanding of Omar Abdullah’s views and answers. There’s a lot more in the interview than has not been covered in this precis.

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