Kashmiris want freedom: Sajad Lone says
20 October 2004
News Network International
Srinagar: From the one with emotional upheavals on the murder of his father sending dossiers out against his detractors to the one with relatively humbled passions, the 37-year-old Sajad Gani Lone has been walled into controversies, which even drove across his blood relations making him part with his sibling Bilal Gani Lone. As son of a noted pro-freedom leader from North Kashmir Abdul Gani Lone who was assassinated in 2002, Sajad appears a bruised soul. And, as a new entrant into the separatist politics of Kashmir his views look overly fixated on a blend of politics and emotions. However his perception about what people want seems bolstered. 'people want Azadi,' he says. In his plush and heavily guarded mansion at Sanatnagar, 4 Kms from here, Sajad Lone spoke to Greater Kashmir and wrapped up his introduction in an off-the-cuff one-liner, 'I am not a post 89 wonder.' Sajad, heading a faction of People's Conference, sounds content rather than apprehensive about the on going composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. 'Forget Pakistan's compromise. Let's resolve not to compromise Kashmiris' interest, be it Pakistan or India,' a suave Sajad opined. As against the separatist dynamics in Kashmir why is he seen anti- Pakistan? No Muslim Kashmiri, Sajad asserts, can be against the idea of Pakistan for the people of Pakistan make for the flesh and blood of Kashmiris. However he hastens to add, 'Let's make Kashmiris sacred. No body, no body should be allowed to kill a Kashmiri because enough of us have died.' To a question about his not being so vocal against the human rights violations Sajad defends himself by saying that he prefers reaching out to the people and seeing how their agonies could be lessened rather than 'chest beating in the streets.' What about the alleged Army accesses in his hometown Kupwara? To this Sajad responds with a bit of rancor, 'Indian Army is not here at the pleasure of the Kashmiri people. But, militants did at a certain stage enjoy the popular support. Rights violations against civilians by Army do not surprise me for the Army is not here on any invitation but rights violations at the hands of militants put into question their very presence and purpose.' Responding a query whether he was also for the withdrawal of Indian regulars from the state, Sajad avers that the gun crowds out the role of Kashmiris because 'gun belongs to either India or Pakistan.' And he predicts a mass upsurge against India once what he terms the 'private gunmen' are out. 'India won't be able to control that upsurge and that is why the violence is allowed to run at a manageable level,' points out Sajad holding degree in Economics from Cardiff University Wales, UK. PC Chief Sajad Lone says he is pained to see a plethora of road maps and the monotonous streams of political statements about the 'so called options' for the Kashmir resolution. 'All this hackneyed, dull, drab, dreary and stale talking sounds a disease; diarrhoea of words, constipation of ideas,' he says in bitterness. About the assessment of what exactly people want, reality doesn't seem to be that elusive for Sajad. He has a cut and dried view regarding the motive of the on going struggle. 'The truth is that people here want Azadi (Freedom),' he says adding 'Kashmiris are willing to be flexible and they would prefer politics playing a major role rather than violence in the espousal of their cause.' If freedom remains the bottom line how would he interpret the most worn out cliche, people's aspirations'? 'This is, perhaps, the most abused phrase in Kashmir politics. There is an Indian definition, Pakistani definition and scores of Kashmir definitions and they are all contradictory,' declaims Lone who was in the eye of a storm following his alleged proxy role in 2002 assembly elections. Replying a question whether the claim by mainstream parties that they also champion the Kashmir cause holds any ground, he says, 'Our cause is much more sacred than the one flaunted by mainstream leaders. But as advocates of that sacred cause we might have lost credibility.' He was non committal when asked if he would participate in talks with New Delhi if invited by the Home Ministry. However to a question about calling for a cease fire within J&K he dismissed the proposition saying it was not his domain. 'No theatrics. I don't espouse the gun and hence have no right to call for a cease fire. It's the gunmen on the both sides to decide,' expatiated the blessedly articulate Sajad Lone who pulled out of Hurriyat Conference following a break up in August this year within Peoples Conference, a 30-year-old political party founded by late Abdul Gani Lone. About Chief Minister Mufti Sayed's policies, Sajad reacts in fury. 'His (Mufti's) spillover from the role of a CM into Kashmir issue as an actor is something I can not digest,' he says. With so many rejections bordering his politics what is his own bottom line? The young separatist parries saying he will come out with 'something new and creative about Kashmir possibly early next year.' When insisted for some highlights, Sajad said he wanted to have a blend of Economics, Politics and Psychology to set the future course for the 'oppressed and bruised Kashmiris.'