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Sleeping with the separatists - Omar Abdullah, NC president

Sleeping with the separatists - Omar Abdullah, NC president

Author: Aijaz Hussain
Publication: India Today
Date: September 1, 2008

Introduction: "It is issue of our land and for our land, we will fight till we die"

In the beginning, Omar Abdullah was widely seen as a victim of PDP's "foul" politics of twisting most of its rhetoric into anti-Abdullah diatribe.

Nothing seemed to be working for the young Abdullah who had been trying hard to shed the baggage that his father Farooq Abdullah and grandfather late Sheikh Abdullah have become for the party he inherited.

Outrage in Kashmir over the land transfer order provided him the opportunity to put down his arch rival Mehbooba Mufti, who tried to distance herself from the cabinet decision on the land deal.

The young Abdullah scion also wanted the deal to be cancelled and the people to forget his party's role in creating a shrine board through the legislation that is now being perceived in the Valley to have created a "state within a state".

Omar's efforts at appealing to his Kashmiri constituency reached a crescendo when he delivered a fiery speech in Parliament during the recent trust vote. His vow to fight for "every inch of Kashmir's land" won him some meaningless sympathy in the Muslim Valley, but turned him into a Ravana for the Hindus of Jammu.

The nationalist with an appeal across the state reduced himself into a Valley politician. His party that has for long enjoyed the status of being the largest party in the state fell to the pulls of extreme tension between Jammu and Kashmir.

As party head, Omar conveniently, and perhaps irresponsibly, sided with the Valley adding weight to the wedge that is dividing the state's two regions more sharply than ever before. His quest for becoming a hero for Kashmir made him a villain in Jammu.

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