The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A from Jammu and Kashmir has apparently added a new dimension to the already contentious dispute, which no one has ever thought of. Now, the Peoples’ Republic of China has raised serious objections to the nullification of Article 370, claiming Ladakh to be its part. J&K, which has been considered as the major bone of contention between India and Pakistan has witnessed over seven decades of skirmishes, making it a bilateral issue, but after the abrogation of Article 370, J&K issue has now become a trilateral issue, despite the fact that India has strongly rebuked China for its interference in its internal affairs. China has brought in or deployed its Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) close to Ladakh border and also crossed Line of Actual Control (LAC) and reported to have taken into possession over more than 1000 kilometers of area in the Galwan valley. However, India does not recognize China’s claims in the eastern Ladakh region over its territory, and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi without naming China has expressed that expansionism has no place in the 21st century. In fact, China has been trying to force upon India a new LAC that suits its design. Pertinently in 1963, Pakistan gifted Shaksgam Valley, which is part of Jammu and Kashmir, to China. Its area is said to be about 4500 square kilometers. The Chinese have established PLA’s regional headquarter there. The Chinese have also occupied the strategic Aksai Chin in the 1962 war. These past and recent developments in and around J&K indicate that it has become a tri-party issue, in which China is strongly interfering, showing its interest and concern as well, whether India likes it or not. Any Indian leader, who supports the restoration of Article 370, is immediately dubbed as Chinese stooge, anti-national and agent of Pakistan. The clubbing of China and Pakistan with the J & K issue is a recent development that appears to have provided a new dimension to the J&K problem. It is the BJP leaders who have highlighted it more than any other political party or leader. It was National Conference President and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah’s recent interview to The Wire, a prominent Indian news portal, in which he, for the first-time mentioned China for having not reconciled to the splitting of J&K into two Union Territories. Farooq has also said that Kashmiris do not feel like Indians, even claiming that they would rather have the Chinese in the area. The BJP has dubbed Farooq’s statement as ‘seditious and anti-national.’ He has been called an agent of Pakistan and its prime agency ISI. Even former Home Minister, P. Chidambaram who has also asked for restoration of Article 370, has been accused of having links with Pakistan’s ISI. In strongest words the J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina attacked Chidambaram by accusing him of ‘toeing the line of Chinese’s President Xi Jinping and Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan.” Dr. Farooq, in his passionate, frank, and strongly-worded interview, expressed his anguish while replying to questions. The Wire has invited lots of brickbats on prime time on some TV channels and in some newspapers as well. Some excerpts from Farooq’s interview with eminent Indian journalist Karan Thapar have been discussed to have an insight into the ground realities existing in J&K following the abrogation of Article 370. Dr. Farooq Abdullah said that Kashmiris do not feel like Indians, even claiming that they would rather have the Chinese in the area. “Today, when China is advancing the other side, you know, many of them would rather have the Chinese coming in,” Abdullah told The Wire in an interview with journalist Karan Thapar. “They know what the Chinese have done to the Muslims in their region.” Dr. Abdullah also refuted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s claims that Kashmiris have accepted the Centre’s move in August 2019 to revoke the special status granted to the erstwhile state. “How can you have protests, if every street is full of your soldiers standing there,” Abdullah said. “Can you have [a] protest? Would you be able to do [a] protest here in Delhi, if every street was littered with armed gunmen?” If Section 144 and the security forces were removed, people would come out on the streets in lakhs, he said. The National Conference chief further said that Kashmiris had no love for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He said that there was a difference between Modi and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “He [Vajpayee] was also RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh],” Abdullah said. “But you remember how he won the hearts of people by talking about – Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat [humanity, peace and keeping the sanctity of the people of Kashmir].” Abdullah also revealed that he had met Modi about 72 hours before the decision to revoke Article 370 was announced. The prime minister had told him that the increase in the number of troops in the region was due to security purposes, Abdullah said, adding that he left the meeting feeling assured. On a question whether the prime minister deceived him, Abdullah said, “He is deceiving the nation now so deceiving Farooq Abdullah does not make a damn difference.” He said that after the move to revoke special status, residents of Kashmir saw him as a servant of the central government, not the state. He, however, added that after his detention, his standing, along with the National Conference and other mainstream parties in the Valley, has been restored. When asked how Kashmiris feel when they read about atrocities committed against Muslims in other parts of India – including lynching people in connection with selling beef, and the Delhi Police allegedly targeting members of the community during the February riots even while BJP members who had made remarks against the Muslims were spared – Abdullah said people were feeling bitter. Abdullah said they would continue to fight for the statehood of Kashmir without “guns and bombs” and die fighting, but would “not give up till the last breath”. “Our fight will continue till you [the Centre] return our dignity.” The former chief minister also agreed to Thapar’s statement that Centre was bringing in domicile laws to change make the Muslim-populated region a Hindu-dominated one. “Don’t do anything that will hurt the country,” he said. Dr. Abdullah also spoke about his son and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who had said that he will not contest elections as long as Kashmir remained a Union Territory. It is his personal decision and not that of the National Conference, Farooq Abdullah said, adding that he would abide by whatever decision the party takes. But one day this volcano will blow. Do you know? India fought 200 years British rule. And after 200 years, we witnessed the rise of the Tricolour. We will continue to fight for our rights. Not by guns, not by bombs. But by Gandhian methods, we are fighting, we may die fighting. Lots of people have died. India became free. We are never going to give up until the last breath. I have said our fight will continue until you return our dignity. The unity of the Muslim majority states with the rest of the nation was based on trust, despite the fact that we had Pakistan, an Islamic country as other option. We could have easily chosen the other side. I wonder whether they’ll find somebody who will call himself an Indian today. What they did. It was already difficult. But what they did on the 5th of August last year was the last nail in the coffin and that’s what they did. You go and talk to anybody; they don’t feel like Indian. The chief secretary is non-Muslim, DGP is non-Muslim. Both divisional commissioners are non-Muslim. Both IGs are non-Muslim. The chief justice is not Muslim, says former chief minister. It hurt me tremendously that the nation I defended everywhere, whether in Geneva, Austria or United Nations, they treated us like as if we are the ones who are the traitors to this land, if there is a need for us to look like traitors in the eyes one billion people, they make us look like traitors. BJP leaders to counter dissent of Dr Abdullah have tagged him Chinese stooge, but the matter of fact remains that China has been deliberately made party to J&K dispute by the present dispensation in India. China has clearly said that India should avoid “unilateral actions” in Jammu and Kashmir that could spark tensions in the region even as it described New Delhi’s decision to reorganise Ladakh as a union territory as “unacceptable”. They asked India to be cautious in its words and deeds on the border issue, strictly abide by the relevant agreements reached between the two sides, and avoid taking actions that further complicate the border issue. From Beijing’s perspective, the August decision also complicated the ongoing boundary talks between the two sides. Pakistani appeals to Beijing to push back against India may have sharpened the Chinese reaction. There is also some similarity between the Pakistani and Chinese positions on India’s August decision: both sides argue that India changed the status of a territory (J&K) whose borders were still being negotiated. The writer is a senior journalist and Indo-Pak peace activist.