Omar Abdullah turns 50, dad can’t visit
An ecstatic Farooq Abdullah sang and danced 11 years ago when his son Omar took over the reins of Jammu and Kashmir, crooning “Papa kehten hain bada naam karega, beta hamara aisa kaam karega” from Aamir Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
At 39, Omar had been the youngest chief minister ever in India.
This Tuesday, Papa Farooq, living a few furlongs away from his son, could not join the quiet and modest celebrations at Omar’s new home as he completed one more important milestone of his life. Omar’s two sons Zamir and Zahir, who live in Delhi with his estranged wife Payal, were also not around when the National Conference leader rang in his 50th birthday.
Omar and Farooq are locked in two jails some distance apart — Farooq at his home that has been turned into a jail and Omar in a guesthouse that is now a prison in Srinagar’s Gupkar.
“My father is upset since morning that he could not wish his son. Obviously if he had been able to, he would have been the first person to wish him in person,” Omar’s younger sister Safia told The Telegraph. Farooq wished Omar over phone, Safia said.
Omar, who has grown a long grey beard that is seen as a sign of protest against the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the detentions, was alone for much of the day. Around 4pm, his mother Mollie, sister Safia, her son and three other relatives, including two of Omar’s cousins, arrived with a birthday cake.
“Six people were granted permission. We went with a cake and celebrated his birthday,” Safia said. She said some of Omar’s friends had applied for permission but were refused. “His blood relations alone were given permission,” she said.
Safia said Farooq and Omar were keeping well.
Omar’s Twitter account blinked back to life on his birthday, with his youngest sister Sara, the wife of Congress leader Sachin Pilot, announcing that she was temporarily managing the account. “Temporarily looked after by Sara Abdullah Pilot to keep track of my brother’s mentions and DMs. Will restore the a/c to its original owner as soon as he’s out,” Omar’s Twitter bio reads.
Omar was flooded with birthday wishes, with NCP MP Supriya Sule, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha greeting him.
“Happy 50th birthday Omar Abdullah. These are testing times but am sure you will emerge taller and wiser,” tweeted TV anchor Nidhi Razdan.