October 17, 2020

“We are here to stay, central govts come and go”, Says Sajad Lone

Srinagar: The BJP deserves the credit for uniting all Jammu and Kashmir parties in an unprecedented alliance to demand the restoration of the former state’s special status, Kashmiri politician Sajad Lone said on Friday, asserting that as “inhabitants and not tourists” they will outlast the central government.
The decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy by the centre was “short-sighted and borne out of hatred”, Lone told NDTV, a day after the regional outfits shed decades-old rivalries to fight unitedly for the restoration of the Article 370 of the constitution.
The former minister in the BJP-PDP government and now a key architect of the bloc named “People’s Alliance”, Mr Lone said he “felt like a stranger” after he was released from year-long detention and saw “outsiders” had taken over the reins of Jammu and Kashmir.
Lone, who was detained along with hundreds of political leaders after the centre announced the move last August, was released on July 31 this year. He said the joint fight for the restoration of Article 370 will be within the framework of the constitution and seek to end the violence and uncertainty.
“This is a collective mechanism and primarily what was ours has been taken away from us. We will struggle peacefully, within the ambit of the constitution as is the right in every part of the country,” said Lone.
“We are here to stay, as inhabitants of the state. We are not tourists. National governments come and go. We should resist any national government decisions for which our children will have to face consequences. It is our moral duty to stand up against it,” he said.
He said the centre did not display “sense ownership” by detaining and jailing leaders in Kashmir. He alleges that the August 5 decision was “borne out of hatred”.
“August 5 decision was very short-sighted borne out of hatred, unfortunately. The national government is a “maai baap” (patents) for everyone. Maai baap does not lock you in, jail you. The onus today is on them to show that they treat us at par with the rest of the country,” he said.
Traditionally bitter political rivals, the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party or PDP, People’s Conference and other groups have decided to keep their individual rivalries in suspended animation and fight together to get Article 370 restored.
The new political block will be led by National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, said Lone, adding they should thank the BJP-led central government for the unthinkable match-making in Kashmir.
“We should thank Delhi for this alliance, to get us together. Delhi has become perfect match-maker,” he said. He alleged that air-dropping officials from other states to take the reins of governance in Jammu and Kashmir was “a disaster”.
“Everything has changed. People who don’t belong to this place have taken over. It is a bunch of people who have no idea about the problems and the history of this place. It is a very disastrous situation,” he said.

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