Peoples' Conference chairman Sajjad Lone on Monday lashed out at hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for his criticism of former's plunge into mainstream politics.
In a seminar on Sunday, Geelani had accused mainstream parties of strengthening “Indian occupation in Kashmir”. “The Peoples' Conference led by Sajjad Lone claims that it would bring a change; the fact is they will only bring miseries. They will become part and parcel of a country that has anti-Kashmir agenda since 1947,” Geelani had said.
Reacting to the criticism, Lone said: “We have a firm belief that Geelani was the best gift that 'status-quo' lobby in New Delhi could aspire for.”
This is not the first incident of spat between the two leaders. In 2008, Lone was accused by Geelani of fielding “proxy candidates” in the state elections, when he was still part of the separatist quarter. Lone had retorted back by calling Geelani “a liar who worked in tandem with Indian agencies”.
However, in 2009, Lone unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary elections from Kupwara-Baramulla constituency, and said that he had only “changed his strategy and not his ideology”.
Lone criticised the 'hartal and election boycott politics' of Geelani.
“The Kashmiri nation deserves to know what his policy of back-breaking hartals and election boycotts has achieved till now. He should desist from his post-winter-vacation sermonising and realize that his delusional and errant politics has economically enervated the Kashmiri people and he has contributed greatly to their economic subjugation,” Lone said.
“Has nobody told Geelani that people do not heed to his boycott calls, because unlike him they have the wisdom and foresight to understand that the boycott of elections and the resolution of the Kashmir Issue are two separate issues that have nothing in common,” stated Lone.
The PC chairman charged the veteran hard-line separatist leader of being enclosed in a 'time-warp'. “Unlike him, we are not deluded to think that Kashmiris are so wealthy that they are not faced with day-to-day issues of governance and economics,” Lone said.
“The daily travails of thousands of Kashmiris, which include heirs of our martyrs, queuing up outside residences and offices of NC and PDP leaders might be a delight for Geelani Sahib's eyes but not in the eyes of Peoples' Conference,” he said.
“We firmly believe that the best bet is to empower people economically before making political decisions because an economically secure and independent Kashmir will be more politically resilient and stable than an economically impoverished one,” he added.