Varun's arrest sparks political debate in Jammu | india | Hindustan Times
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Varun's arrest sparks political debate in Jammu

india Updated: Apr 05, 2009 01:49 IST

Hindustan Times
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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Varun Gandhi's arrest in Uttar Pradesh and the invocation of the National Security Act (NSA) against him triggered a political debate, surprisingly, in Jammu and Kashmir.

Although the BJP and the Congress are keeping a studied silence, the ruling National Conference and the opposition People's Democratic Party are indulging in sharp exchanges over the issue.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in his candid style, opposed the slapping of the NSA against Gandhi, arguing that 'an individual's hate speech' could have been dealt with other laws.

Abdullah, who rules the only Muslim majority state in the country, said, "I don't think that it (Gandhi's speech) could have threatened national security."

But PDP president Mehbooba Mufti smelled a rat. She thought Abdullah's stand could be an indication of a post-poll alliance between the NC and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

She also accused Abdullah of being more concerned about Gandhi than thousands of Kashmiris booked under The Public Safety Act.

Although Muslims in the state were always aloof to what happened to the Muslims in the rest of the country, the Amarnath land row in the summer of 2008 changed their thinking.

The Kashmiri Muslim, who did not react to Babri demolition in December 1992, is now referring to the Gujarat riots of 2002 and the plight of the Indian Muslims.

The PDP and the NC were on the same side during the Amarnath row. When the PDP withdrew support to the Congress-led coalition government at that time, the NC shied away from backing the government, gauging the popular mood.

Now, with Varun Gandhi's speech having been accorded prominence by the Kashmiri media, Mehbooba quickly expressed her 'surprise and dismay" and attacked Abdullah, saying, "Omar's remarks have once again exposed the deceitful politics of the NC leadership."

"While Omar Abdullah is enjoying power in the state jointly with the Congress, he is at the same time trying to keep his old friends in the BJP in good humor for a future alliance post polls," Mehbooba said.

She said Abdullah should have showed same concern for the hundreds of Kashmiri detenus booked under the PSA.

Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chairman Bhim Singh has offered free legal services to Varun's mother Maneka Gandhi to fight his case in the court of law.