Baramulla: A small lawyer’s chamber in Baramulla court is overcrowded these days. This poorly maintained and dimly-lit chamber is witnessing unusual footfall since the day the results of district development council (DDC) polls were declared.
Those turning up in this chamber are not clients, but the people who have come to congratulate Irfan Hafiz Lone, a lawyer for his superb victory in the DDC polls.
Irfan stunned everyone in political circles of Kashmir by defeating Shoiab Nabi Lone, a former MLA, from Sangrama segment of Baramulla DDC. He is the only winner from Kashmir who defeated a former legislator during the recent held DDC polls.
“I decided to contest the polls at the eleventh hour. I knew it was a difficult task but I was hopeful about my victory” Lone, who also plans to contest Assembly polls, said.
Irfan, who is also a TV panelist, says “those who did not vote after infamous electoral fraud of 1987 came out to vote for him in the DDC polls”.
“My opponents used both money and muscle power but people defeated them. They used different tactics to browbeat the people but people give them a befitting reply,” he said.
Irfan’s family commands respect and influence in Sangrama- Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Irfan lost his father Hafizullah Lone, a known social activist, at very young age.
Irfan, who is the eldest among three siblings, was interested in social activism from young age.
Much before joining electoral politics, he has been raising issues of human rights violations in Kashmir and used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to gather information about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and use of J&K’s water resources by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation(NHPC).
He has also participated in sit-ins held at Jantar Mantar over many emotive issues including human rights violations in Kashmir.
In TV studious, Irfan would often take on leaders of different political parties for their “hardline approach” on Kashmir.
“I often argued in TV debates that dialogue is the only way forward on Kashmir,” he says.
Irfan says that he will “fight for the restoration of rights and honour of Kashmiris. ” We have lost one lakh people since 1989. We need a soloution which will respect the sentiments of Kashmiris,” he says.
He also plans to work for development of Sangrama- Sopore region, which he says, has been neglected by successive regimes of J&K.
“People are craving for basic needs like Sadak, Bijli and Pani in our area. Our former MLAs have failed to address grievances of the people,” he says