Laying emphasis on providing enough security to panchayat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said militancy still exists and the government should not live in "cuckoo world and think everything is hunky-dory".
Abdullah, a former chief minister, made these remarks in the presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at an official event in Srinagar, organised as part of the parliamentary outreach programme for strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Abdullah requested the Lt governor to strengthen security of panchayat leaders who continue to face threat to their lives and said militancy still exists in the Kashmir valley.
"These panchayat members are the targets of militants and they need to be protected. Don't live in a cuckoo world and think everything is hunky-dory. We still face militancy and God knows what will happen in future," he said in an apparent suggestion to the government.
Laying emphasis on the need to protect the country's diversity, Abdullah said there is nothing similar between those who live in Srinagar and Chennai. "The binding factor is only the resolve that we come together to create this country. India is a diverse nation and it cannot prosper if we don't protect its diversity."
He further said if the authorities don't protect the diversity, then one cannot protect the nation.
"India cannot be run on the basis of one religion. And there is more threat from the enemy within. We know about the enemy which is outside," Abdullah said.
He further said there is nothing wrong with any religion and that no religion teaches us to hate people from different faiths.
Abdullah mentioned that panchayat elections were held under the governments led by him and his son Omar Abdullah.
Reacting to Abdullah, the Lt Governor said, "I want to assure (you) that appropriate arrangements have been made for the security of panchayat leaders. The administration is committed to provide them security and will extend them all possible help to fulfil their duty."
Abdullah also asserted his party will win the next assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, indicating for the first time since the abrogation of Article 370 that his party would participate in the polls.
"We will win and I am telling you this with authority that if they conduct polls in a free and fair manner, then the National Conference will be the biggest party here," he told reporters.
The National Conference chief, who represents the Srinagar parliamentary constituency, however, regretted his party's non-participation in the 2018 panchayat polls and the 2019 Block Development Council elections.
"Our party did not contest the polls and I regret it. We should have (contested) and we will in the future God willing," the veteran politician said.
Expressing anguish over government officials of the Jammu and Kashmir administration not responding to phone calls of people, Abdullah requested Sinha to instruct them to answer calls.
"I have this complaint with the government officials that they do not pick up their phones as if some ghost is hanging upon them," he said.
Abdullah said he picks up anybody's call because as a doctor he feels that the caller may be in some kind of distress.
"I do not ask him which religion or party he belongs to. I think of him as a human in whose heart God resides," he said.
Abdullah added soon a government will be formed in J&K which will make the officers accountable.
Later on, talking to the reporters, he said the bureaucrats would be held accountable.
"They will be accountable tomorrow for what they have done. Today, they think of themselves as kings, but they are not kings, they are the servants of people who have to work for the people," he said.
The function was also attended by union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Prahlad Patel and Minister of State for Education Annapurna Devi.