Last year Kashmir created history. In assembly elections, despite boycott calls by the seperatist Hurriyat Conference, people of Kashmir came out and voted in record numbers, 68% precisely. Stunned Hurriyat Conference refused to accept it’s defeat and termed the large voting as people’s wish for good governance and some local issues like bijli, sadak,pani. They claimed that by voting in assembly elections, people of Kashmir didn’t compromise Kashmir’s azadi. The issue is very much on and Indian government must try to find a lasting solution to the vexed problem of Kashmir.
Take their view first that people of Kashmir participated in assembly elections for the local issue of bijli,sadak,pani. Agreed, they voted for it and it shows that now they are more concerned about their well-being, about their children’s future, rather than the emotive issue of independence. A new government of National Conference, with the support of Congress, is in saddle. Kashmir got it’s youngest chief minister.
Then the election for the 15th Lok Sabha were declared and a prominent seperatist leader Sajjad Lone decided to fight these elections. It is interesting to note that Lone’s sister Shabnam Lone was also a candidate in the last year’s assembly elections. That time Lone had denounced his sister and termed her act as a “great betrayal of the legacy of his father and Shaheed-e-Hurriat”. Shabnam paid no heed and went ahead. Barely after few months Sajjad Lone himself took the plunge, though on record he still maintains that’ it will hurt to take oath under Indian statute’. The fact is that he is the first seperatist leader to contest the elections. UK-educated and 42 year old, Sajjad Lone is a close confidante of moderate Hurriyat faction chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and heads a breakaway faction of the People’s Conference. Lone says that “the turnout prompted me to change the strategy but not the ideology……..I am not seeking power, but I am trying to reorient the stuggle from the street to the institutions”.
A warm welcome Mr. Lone to the national arena. It’s a welcome reorientation. I know, you will always maintain that it is not a victory for Indian democracy. But deep down you also know, it is a victory for Indian democracy indeed.
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