Farooq Abdullah
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Farooq Abdullah

Farooq Abdullah has been for autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir within the Constitution of India and formalising the Line of Control (LoC) as the international border.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2002 15:17 IST

Farooq Abdullah has been for autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir within the constitution of India and formalising the Line of Control (LoC) as the international border.

Farooq Abdullah was a novice in the political arena of Jammu and Kashmir when he was appointed president of National Conference in Srinagar on August 21, 1981. His prime qualification was that he was the son and heir of the nationalist Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah.

Power came easily to him but he had been handed over a state where deep dissatisfaction was brewing. Anti-India feelings were running high.

But he was hardly a chief minister who could be seen to be solving the complex issues rife in the state. He was famous more for speeding around Srinagar on his motorbike and had acquired somewhat of a playboy image

Yet, the one lesson he knew astutely was the importance of being on the right side of the power at the Centre. These were policies, which further alienated the people who already harboured the feeling that the Centre held the key in the state and was turning it for vested political ends.

In 1984 Farooq Abdullah was dismissed and replaced with a pro-Congress government under GM Shah. But Farooq was never the one to give up.

Though charges of corruption were rampant against him, he returned to power in 1987 in the elections which were believed to be massively rigged. He forged an intricate alliance with the Congress and returned as interim chief minister in 1987.

The Muslim United Front (MUF), formed in 1986, which contested the election in 1987, alleged that votes were cast in favour in the MUF but results declared in favour of the National Conference. This caused grave resentment among the people of Kashmir and brought the entire state to the edge of an abyss.

In May 1987, Farooq Abdullah’s motorcade was attacked on the way to the mosque. This was the first direct attack against him. And it was also a sign of the looming clouds of terror which would shadow the valley in the coming years. Meanwhile, unemployment continued to rise in the state and Farooq was unable to address the problem.

1989 saw a massive Muslim uprising in the state against the leadership and paramilitary forces were deployed to control the dangerously escalating violence. Foreign correspondents were banned from the state. People of all communities were out on the streets. Chants of freedom rent the air and for the first time the Indian flag was not hoisted on January 26.

By March 1990, lakhs of Hindus had left the valley seeking refuge in camps outside Jammu. Farooq Abdullah resigned when Jagmohan returned as Governor of J&K and President’s rule was imposed in the state. Farooq spent much of the intervening time back in London.

In September 1996, Farooq returned to power when fresh assembly elections were held. He won again and has continued in power ever since.

First Published: Sep 08, 2002 21:59 IST