Slain Hurriyat Conference Leader Abdul Gani Lone's Daughter Jumps Into Election Fray
20 November 2008
: Despite the call of boycott from the separatists, daughter of slain Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Gani Lone's daughter Shabnum Gani Lone contests polls from Kupwara constituency of Jammu and Kashmir. Shabnum is contesting as an independent candidate in the third phase of seven-phased elections to be held on November 30.A practicing lawyer, Lone said she jumped into the fray on the insistence of her supporters and believes that separatists have their right to boycott polls; likewise she has the right to do something for the people of Kashmir. They (Separatist) have the right to run their campaign to boycott polls, it's their agenda and their right. Nobody can take his or her right away from them. My brothers are there and it's their right to boycott elections. There is no problem in that. And in the same manner I have the right to contest elections as I am not the member of the Hurriyat conference, said Shabnam. Shabnam's brothers, Sajad Gani Lone and Bilal Gani Lone are leaders of the Kashmir's separatist alliance the All Party Hurriyat Conference. Shabnam believes that elections will not hamper the Kashmir struggle for independence as they are only meant for the day-to-day issues of the locals. They (Separatist) have the right to run their campaign to boycott polls, it's their agenda and their right. Nobody can take his or her right away from them. My brothers are there and it's their right to boycott elections. There is no problem in that. And in the same manner I have the right to contest elections as I am not the member of the Hurriyat conference, added Shabnam. Locals feel that she should be given a chance and see what she can do for the betterment of the people. She has taken a good decision. If she feels that she can do something for the people of Kashmir and is thus contesting elections, it's good, said Irfan Ahmed, a resident. Shabnam will be among 17 others trying to break the stranglehold of Mir Saifullah of National Conference over the seat. Saifullah won the seat in 1996 and 2002 elections and is aiming at a hattrick on the National Conference ticket. This time there are 71 candidates in the fray in five Assembly constituencies of Kupwara district, 25 more than the last Assembly elections. These include five women candidates. Three Kashmiri pandits have also filed nominations in the district. As many as 3.41 lakh voters including 1.63 lakh women voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the district for whom 448 polling stations will be set up. Separatist leaders, who either want Kashmir to become independent or part of Pakistan, have appealed for an election boycott after some of the biggest anti-India protests were staged in Kashmir this year since an insurgency began in 1989.