Valley News Desk

Abdullah wants Congress to be strong to fight ”divisive forces” in country

Jammu, Feb 28: National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said he wanted the Congress to remain united and strong to fight “divisive forces” in the country.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister warned selective killings by terrorists would continue unless the root cause of militancy is addressed.

Abdullah”s remarks came a day after senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and other ”Group of 23” dissident leaders, who have been pressing for a leadership change and organisational overhaul in the party, got together at a function here in an apparent show of strength to convey a message to the party high command.

“I want the Congress to be strong. I want the Congress to unite and fight divisive forces in the country… people are looking forward to the Congress sorting things out in the country. It is a part of this nation and has been a 150-year-old party,” Abdullah told reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by Kashmiri Pandits here.

Replying to a question on Congress leaders assembling in Jammu on Saturday, Abdullah said, “He (Azad) is a part of the Congress and so are all those who came. They are not out of the party, they are senior leaders of the Congress.”

Asked about his reaction to an alleged statement made by Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi wherein he said democracy is dead in the country, the NC leader said, “Why should I react to what he (Gandhi) or these leaders (Azad and others) are saying… What do I have got to do with them. My party is the National Conference.”

“It is for them (Congress leaders) to decide, the problem is in their house and they have to set it right,” he said.

Asked about the killing of Akash Mehra, the son of the owner of a popular eatery, who was shot by terrorists in Srinagar, Abdullah termed the incident as “very tragic”.

Mehra was shot on February 17 and succumbed to injuries at the SMHS hospital on Sunday. His body was brought to his Jammu residence late this afternoon and he was later cremated.

“Those who shout from the top of the mountain that everything is hunky dowry here and bring the ambassadors to show them how good it is, should answer… it should be the Lt Governor who should answer. If militancy is dead, the DGP should answer who says every day that it (terrorism) is all over,” he said.

Asked about the selective killings in the valley, he said, “They (terrorists) will continue to do this. It is not going to end just because you and I say that it should end. They (government) have to find out what is the cause of these things and why it is happening and try and treat the cause.”

In response to another question about Azad praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for openly speaking about his past as a tea-seller, he said, “I don”t have to react to what Azad sahib says. He is a senior leader of Congress and made the statement and why should I react to it.”

Earlier, the NC leader said Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits and expressed his desire to see the community back at their place of birth before his death. (PTI)

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