February 2004 News

Lone Brothers Play Out 'Deewar

22 February 2004
The Times of India

New Delhi: ' Mere paas daulat hai, shohrat hai , Hurriyat hai . Tumhare paas kya hai ?' asks the younger brother. ' Mere paas maa hai ,' replies the elder. This slight variation of Salim-Javed's screenplay of Deewaar is currently playing out on the political stage of the Kashmir valley. The two sons of slain People's Conference leader Abdul Ghani Lone - Bilal, the younger, and Sajjad, the elder - are now separated by a wall of distrust. Bilal has the party, the Peoples Conference, and the conglomerate, Hurriyat Conference, of which it is a constituent, on his side. Sajjad stands expelled from the Hurriyat but has the support of Lone's widow, Begum Abdul Gani Lone, and therefore can lay claim on the legacy of Lone Sr. That is why Bilal's hold over the party has not deterred him from planning to join mainstream politics and fight the coming Lok Sabha with the support of Peoples' Conference cadre. Sajjad was thrown out of the Hurriyat after he attacked senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for attending the funeral of his father's killers recently. The senior Lone, who was very popular in the Kupwara area, was shot dead in Srinagar in May 2002 by pro-Pakistan militants barely three months ahead of the assemblyh elections that year. Those named in the FIR included Al Umar 'commander' Rafeeq Lidre. He was recently killed by the security forces. Umar Farooq attended Lidre's funeral, enraging Sajjad. In a letter to Hurriyat chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari, Sajjad urged him to ask the Mirwaiz to tender a public apology for glorifying the killers of 'our leader and your colleague'. But some Hurriyat leaders did not like the tone of Sajjad's letter and Bilal, instead of standing by his brother, mollified them by withdrawing him from the executive of the separatist conglomerate.


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