Can't support decision to withdraw security to separatists in Kashmir: Sajad Lone
Jammu, Feb 18: Chairman of Peoples Conference and former minister Sajad Gani Lone Monday said he "cannot support" the decision to withdraw security to separatists in Kashmir, noting his father was killed months after his security was "lowered".
The security cover of six separatist leaders, including Sajad Lone's elder brother Bilal Lone, was withdrawn Sunday, a decision that comes in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror strike in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
"It is their (government's) decision (withdrawing security to separatists) but personally as far as I am concerned, I have lost my father and I cannot support it because I will never support violence of any sort against anyone," Sajad Lone, son of politician-turned-separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone, said.
The elder Lone, a prominent Hurriyat leader, was assassinated in 2002 during a rally to mark the death anniversary of former Mirwaiz of Kashmir Moulvi Mohammad Farooq in Srinagar.
Moulvi Farooq, father of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was assassinated in 1990.
"The security of my father was lowered in 2002 and after a few months, I received his body at home. I am not in a position to defend this decision (withdrawal of security)," the separatist-turned politician said, adding that "had I not been provided security, I would not have fought the elections because I would not have been alive then".
Besides Bilal, the security cover of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul Gani Bhat, Hashim Qureshi, Fazal Haq Qureshi and Shabir Shah has been withdrawn.
Replying to a question that the Hurriyat leaders are toeing the Pakistan line, Sajad Lone said it was also been said about him sometime back.
"Today I am being projected as an example... And give this example that had he not been given security, he should not have been alive today," he said.
Sajad Lone was a minister in the erstwhile PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir. His party, the People's Conference, is an ally of the BJP.
The PC chairman said one should not be selective. "My father and Mirwaiz's father were killed. I do not know what prompted this decision.
"Why they were provided security? There was no threat from the government side but they were provided security because there was threat to their lives from the same people who are your enemies as well," he said and added that there was no justification for taking away their security.
"India is a great country and if they feel their enemy is facing a threat, they provide security to him and that is how India is distinctive in the world," Sajad Lone said.
He also expressed concerned over "intimidation and harassment" of Kashmiri students, professionals and families living outside the valley and said "it is unacceptable and cannot be passed off as a purportedly natural outburst" to the terror attack which left 40 CRPF personnel dead in south Kashmir on Thursday.
"These incidents are tantamount to trivialising the enormous sufferings and the pain suffered by the people of Kashmir over the period of the last three decades while their lives were engulfed by the scourge of violence and terror.
They have been at the receiving end of the devastation that comes with a prolonged conflict and they have borne the brunt.
"To attack them, single them out and harass them is shameful and those behind such mob-mentality and bullying should be dealt with in the strongest of terms," the former minister said.
He said if stone pelting is wrong in Kashmir, it is equally wrong in Jammu and should attract the same legal and administrative response.
"What is wrong in Kashmir cannot be deemed acceptable and tolerable in Jammu. Law and order is the subject of the state administration and they need to ensure that there is zero tolerance for these mobs in Jammu and those who are involved are arrested and persecuted," the PC chairman said.
He said all the state governments are duty bound to ensure the safety and security of all Kashmiri students, professionals and families residing in their respective states and no laxity should be tolerated in this matter.
"I have spoken to various state government authorities and police authorities in various states and sought foolproof safety and security of Kashmiri students and families in those states," he said.