Stuck To Rigidity, Kashmiris Will Only Lose War: Sajjad
22 May 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: In its first major show of strength after the founder Abdul Gani Lone's assassination in May last year, Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Conference (PC) today eclipsed the separatist Hurriyat Conference in the Valley. The party organised a mass congregation at Sher-e-Kashmir Park while striking a note of flexibility and moderation. Its chairman, Sajjad Gani Lone, declared at the gathering that Kashmir was neither Pakistan's jugular vein nor India's integral part. Inspite of drizzle after drizzle for the whole day, PC's show was a grand success as about 15,000 people-mostly from Kupwara district- participated in the public meeting. Organisers of the rally, who were actually expecting over 50,000 people to turn up, had hired about 800 vehicles to ferry the participants from different localities of Kashmir valley. As for the separatist camp, it was the largest gathering since July 1994, when Shabir Shah was accorded a warm reception at his release from six-year-long detention. Even as no pro- Pakistan slogans were heard anywhere in the rally, participants shouted plenty of pro-Azadi slogans. PC has been a formidable constituent of the Hurriyat Conference-an umbrella of the Valley's two dozen political and religious outfits. The rally had been organised on occasion of the first death anniversary of late Abdul Gani Lone and none of the Hurriyat leaders had been invited. Significantly, two of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's Cabinet Ministers- Forest Minister Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Sofi and Revenue Minister Hakeem Mohammad Yasin-had also mobilised their supporters in Handwara and Khansaheb respectively, for participation. The youthful and emotional Sajjad Lone told his audience that a new world order was emerging and the people of Kashmir could not afford to live in isolation now. 'We Kashmiris have to condition ourselves in accordance with the new wave of peace', he said in his speech which was curtailed by rain. 'If India and Pakistan have turned flexible, how can we afford to be rigid? Stuck to rigidity, Kashmiris can only lose the war', he warned. According to him, it was easier to issue an anti-West statement at home but far difficult to bear its implications on Kashmir's (freedom) movement. He claimed that both India as well as Pakistan were under tremendous world pressure to sort out their differences amicably. 'We have to find a role for ourselves in the current peace process. If we chose to remain rigid, we'll miss the bus for ever', Sajjad asserted. He said that Kashmir was a part of the world and the world was not a part of Kashmir. 'There are people (in Kashmir's separatist struggle) who see only graveyards for the children of the poor Kashmiris but think of medical colleges when it is the question of their own children', he added. Sajjad Lone asked his followers to be aware of the 'enemy, who lay in ambush'. 'Killers of Abdul Gani Lone must be mad over the size of this gathering. They must be asking one another how this much thick a rally to remember the leader they killed', he said. Sajjad said that the plot of his father's assassination had been hatched up immediately after his October 8, 2000, rally. On that occasion, Lone had shouted the slogan that Kashmir was neither Pakistan's jugular vein nor India's integral part. 'Ham kisi ki shah rag nahi, ham kisi ka atoot ang nahi', shouted Sajjad and his rallyists. Sajjad described the separatist leaders as the advocates of the Kashmiris' cause. However, according to him, the sentiment of Azadi was diminishing due to the poor performance of its advocates. He said that the cause of the Kashmiris' freedom was paramount to everything and nobody was above that cause. 'Hurriyat is 9-year-old, Peoples Conference is 25-year- old, but the Kashmir issue is 55-year-old, he said. After the public meeting concluded, the PC supporters paid a visit to Iddgah in downtown where they offered Fatiha at Abdul Gani Lone's tomb. Supporters of another separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had conducted the function of remembrance in memory of his father late Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq at Iddgah yesterday. While as Mirwaiz Farooq was gunned down by two assassins at his Nageen residence on May 21, 1990, Abdul Gani Lone was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen at Iddgah grounds on May 21, 2002.