Separatist leader Sajad Lone declares he will contest Lok Sabha poll

April 11th, 2009 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, April 11 (IANS) In a breakthrough for Indian democracy senior separatist leader Sajad Lone Saturday announced his decision to contest election from Baramulla for a seat in the Lok Sabha.
“I am fighting elections,” Lone, the chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference, told reporters here.

He is the first separatist leader of his stature to join the democratic process since the outbreak of militancy over two decades ago. Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir had previously rejected the Indian democratic process.

But now, the younger son of slain separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone said he would be contesting from Baramulla constituency in north Kashmir.

“It is a change of strategy and not of ideology. I will take the problems of the Kashmiri people to the Indian parliament,” Lone said, adding: “I still challenge India’s authority on Kashmir.”

The People’s Conference chairman said his decision to contest elections was not a blow to the separatist campaign in Kashmir.

He said his party was not a member of any of the two Hurriyat Conference factions though he was a member of the conglomerate’s coordination committee, which called for the boycott of the 2008 assembly polls.

“The boycott call was rejected by the people and now it is a question of my credibility. I will represent Kashmir in India not India in Kashmir,” the young leader said.

Lone asked Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to ensure free and fair elections in the state.

“Ensuring free and fair poll without any rigging was a challenge to young Omar Abdullah,” he said.

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