Had Vajpayee not intervened, I would’ve been killed: Sajad Lone

Sajad Lone

Chairman of People’s Conference (PC) Sajad Lone on Sunday, while lashing out at the nepotism prevalent in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir  said that had it not been the intervention of BJP he would not have survived physically.

Responding to a question during an interview with The Indian Express the former pro-freedom leader while talking about his struggle post his father’s death said that had BJP government not provided him security he would not have survived.

“The Union government intervened and persevered until I was given security,” he said. “Mr Vajpayee was the PM. That was my first brush with appreciation for the BJP… Had they not intervened, the probability of me physically surviving was not very high.”

On 21 May 2002, Lone’s father, Abdul Gani Lone, a senior All-Party Hurriyat Conference leader was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Eidgah grounds, ahead of the visit of the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to the Kashmir Valley.

The Union government intervened and persevered until I was given security. Mr Vajpayee was the PM. That was my first brush with appreciation for the BJP… Had they not intervened, the probability of me physically surviving was not very high.

Lone also said that he wasn’t a politician for his inheritance and that he was never groomed or selected by his late father Abdul Gani Lone. “I pray that no son ever joins politics in the circumstances I did — a day after receiving the bullet-ridden body of my father,” he had said in the interview. “I shudder even now when the scenes of helplessness, hopelessness and fear play out in my mind… Saying no would have meant surrender. While my father’s body lay in the lawns of our residence, the patrons of the killers put intense pressure to reverse the decision about my entry into the party. It only strengthened my resolve.”

Lone has emerged as a strong contender in the mainstream political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, giving strong opposition to the two major political parties – National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP). While winning all Municipal seats in his home constituency Handwara, Lone’s party – People’s Conference (PC), also made inroads into Srinagar. His Mayoral candidate Junaid Azim Mattu was elected as Mayor with 40 votes out of total 74.

Further talking about his Father’s day of burial  lone said that despite being told by authorities that his life was in danger he wasn’t provided ample security. He further gives details of the day of his father’s killing, saying, “The day of my father’s burial, the divisional commissioner came to our home — a fine gentleman he was. He informed me there was a serious risk to my life if I went to the burial site. I requested for security. He did not say no, but did not say yes either — which basically meant inability to provide security. Fearful, I decided to go… At the funeral, it was a free-for-all. Incidentally, it was the same place where my father was killed.”

Adding that  a group of youth took him aside and commiserated with him. “One of them put his arm across me and I could feel something pointed against my back. I don’t know whether it was a small firearm or a harmless object. The youth counselled me to retract a statement I had made the previous day accusing the patrons of killing my father. I kept quiet,” Lone lamented.

Mehboobaji [Mehbooba Mufti] told them Sajad Lone is neck deep with the Indian agencies. I didn’t believe it until a cable leaked by Wikileaks suggested literally the same.

He accused the then Farooq Abdullah led government of not providing him security,  “The government of the day provided me security. It was a lone PSO, who incidentally had been a band-master for a decade or so… Thereafter, the state government refused to provide security. I believe they felt that my stature did not deserve a higher security categorisation. Dr Farooq Abdullah was the CM… This is what we call barriers to entry for newcomers, and denial of security is a powerful barrier,” he said.

Lone also talked about his fallout with Hurriyat saying he found them outdated, “Dynastically I was with the Hurriyat, and right from day one, they and their patrons refused to accept me. They found me too moderate. And I found them outdated. I rebelled and was thrown out. This was just the start of my travails,” he said.

Lone also took a dig at former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti saying that she had indulged in ‘fatal chatter’ by saying that he was neck deep with Indian agencies, “Around 2004, a team of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association) with Pakistani journalists came to Kashmir and met Mehboobaji (Mehbooba Mufti),” he said. “The PDP was in power. One of the team members told me that Mehboobaji told them Sajad Lone is neck deep with the Indian agencies. I didn’t believe it until a cable leaked by Wikileaks suggested literally the same… Here was Mehboobaji, with elite SSG security cover, indulging in such potentially fatal chatter.”

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