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J&K: Separatist leader Sajad Lone to contest polls

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
April 11, 2009 23:34 IST
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Senior separatist leader and People's Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone on Saturday announced his decision to fight the Lok Sabha elections.

The decision of Sajad Lone to join the mainstream politics in Kashmir is a watershed development as he is the first major separatist leader to bid farewell to separatist politics and partake in the upcoming electoral battle.

Talking to media persons at his uptown Rawalpora residence, Sajad said: "Joining the electoral process is only a change of strategy and not ideology."

"This would help me in carrying the voice of my people to the parliament. I would like to make an attempt to engage and push for a real process of negotiations," he added.

Though he did not disclose the constituency from which he will be contesting the elections, it is a foregone conclusion that it would be north Kashmir's Baramulla constituency from where People's Democratic Party has already nominated former minister Dilawar Mir.

Lone's father, another firebrand separatist leader, Abdul Gani Lone was shot at and killed by gunmen in May 2002 while attending the death anniversary ceremony of late Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq at Eidgah in old city.

Sajad was earlier part of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference till the 2002 state assembly polls, but parted ways after the fire brand separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani alleged that the PC had fielded its candidate from north Kashmir's Handwara constituency, a charge denied by Sajad Gani Lone.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar