Lone Hits Back As Geelani Accuses Separatists Of Double Standards

26 November 2008
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Setting off rumblings within the separatist camp, which is already grappling with the high turnout in the first two phases of the Assembly elections, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Wednesday accused them of double standards in their approach to the poll boycott campaign. Geelani returned to the Valley on Tuesday after a month, following a surgery in New Delhi. At a press conference here, Geelani called the People’s Conference (PC) posture a sham. “On the one hand, workers of the People’s Conference are seeking votes for their candidate Shabnum Lone and, on the other, its leaders in Srinagar are calling for a boycott,” he said. PC head and Shabnum’s brother, Sajjad Gani Lone, reacted swiftly and sharply, saying that not only was he against boycotting elections in principle, but that he could do nothing about his workers contesting except expel them. “I can’t get them murdered like Geelani,” Lone said, pointing out that there was a general perception in his native district Kupwara that it was Geelani who got his father, prominent separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone, assassinated. “I didn’t want separatists to boycott polls. It was a trap. But then I followed the predominant opinion,” Lone said. “If my sister contesting the poll implicates me, then Geelani has more skeletons in his own cupboard.” In a dig at the Hurriyat leader’s political past, Lone also noted that the PDP candidate from Sonawari, Yasir Reshi, was the nephew of Geelani’s secretary Shafi Reshi. Lone also reminded Geelani of the brothers of former Jamaat-i-Islami chief Ghulam Muhammad Bhat and senior Hurriyat leader Agha Hassan Budgami who are among the contestants. “If I wanted, I could have fought the election and even won,” Lone rubbed it in. “Geelani knows it. But I boycotted for the larger Kashmir cause.” The PC chief also said he had no social relations with sister Shabnum. “Now how can he accuse me of being a party to her election campaign?” Lone said. Saying that he “rejected Geelani’s brand of politics”, Lone remarked: “I was expecting that on his return he would ask me to be steadfast on my resolve. I didn’t expect this cheap attack.”