Separatist ideology ‘dead’ in J&K, people realised it is futile: Sajad Lone

Srinagar, Apr 26: The ideology of separatism is “dead” in Jammu and Kashmir as people realised it is futile, separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajad Lone said.In a freewheeling interview with PTI, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) chief called for an end to violence, saying, “India is our land and there is no ambiguity about that.”Asked if the separatist ideology is dead and buried in Jammu and Kashmir, Lone said, “I think yes, it is. I think it is dead. People see that it was futile and I would also add that the ball is in Delhi’s court (now),” said Lone.”Kashmiris are ready to be a part of India but they are looking at a dignified coexistence, they are not looking at the status of indignity or (being) unequal Indians.”They are looking at being Indians with pride and at par with an Indian from Gujarat or Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu,” he added.Lone, who is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla constituency, said one of the reasons he wants to go to Parliament is to strive and advocate for the same set of laws for the children of Kashmir and the rest of the country.He cited the example of police verifications in Jammu and Kashmir.While police verification in other parts of the country entails checking if an individual has any criminal antecedents or if an FIR is registered against them, in Kashmir, the entire family tree is investigated, he said.”So, if in a family of 500 people, cousins and second cousins, one person is involved in violence, 499 will not get police clearance. This means they will not get a job, they will not get a passport, they can’t participate in government contracts and probably they (government) might even pass a law that they can’t get a bank loan,” he said.Lone also underlined the importance of reintegration in conflict resolution.”Those who rebelled against the system, how much time will you give them to reintegrate into the system? So, if they are clean for 10 years, it is time to take the stigma off and let them live like normal civilians. This is done in all civilised countries,” he said.In response to a question, the JKPC president said he would not want Kashmir to be an issue between India and Pakistan, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir should focus on their lives and development.”If there is an issue, the two countries have their foreign ministries to deal with it. We are a union territory, hopefully (will become) a state, and let’s focus on development. It (their issues) is something that the two countries will take care of,” he said.He said his opinion might not be politically very correct or palatable but it was the truth which would save lives.”Anybody saying anything to the contrary is talking about sacrifice. Sacrifice means blood, dead bodies and jail. Whosever says so should first qualify whose children will die and whose children will go to jail.”I don’t want… the army of orphans to supply more (bodies) to the graves,” he said.Lone, whose father and separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone was assassinated on May 21, 2022, added that he detests violence as he has been at the receiving end.On his past association with separatist Hurriyat Conference, the JKPC chief said the amalgam never accepted him while the mainstream political parties labelled him as an agent of agencies.Lone, who is pitted against National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah in Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, said the mainstream political parties paint him as a separatist as well as a BJP man in the same breath.”They say his father created militant outfits and in the same breath, they say he is with the BJP. You have to give a prize for fiction and theatre to the National Conference,” he said.Lone, who has been a vocal critic of the NC, said the tenure of the oldest political party of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the “worst human rights violations, dozens of killings in a single day, blinding (of) people. The menace of pellets was brought here by (former chief minister) Omar Abdullah.”Baramulla goes to polls on May 20 in the fifth round of the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls. The counting of votes for all seven phases will be taken up on June 4.–(PTI)

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