Sajjad Gani Lone, chairman of a faction of Peoples’ Conference (PC), on Tuesday advocated for dividing the state on regional and religious lines as a solution to the Jammu and Kashmir issue. He said that non-Muslim dominated areas of Jammu and Ladakh must be left to merge with India while Valley should be declared independent. The Muslim areas of Jammu and Ladkah should be given a choice to go with either side.
Sajjad was addressing a rally in capital Srinagar organised by his party to commemorate the death anniversary of his father Abdul Gani Lone, the founder leader of All Party Hurriyat Conference. Lone was killed by unknown gunmen at I’d Gah on May 21, 2002 during a function organized at the death anniversary of Mirwaiz Molvi Mohammad Farooq.
"They (non-Muslim population of Ladakh and Jammu) hold a different religion and culture. They don’t subscribe to our movement. They rather call it terrorism. They are not ready to go with us. They, instead, complain of Kashmiri domination. My idea is that they should be permanently merged with India. The Valley should be declared independent. And the Muslim population of Jammu and Ladakah should be give the option to choose between the two," he said.
Ironically, this is quite in contradiction to what Sajjad had earlier proposed in his document — Vision Kashmir — released on January 6, 2007. In the document the PC chairman had pleaded for formation of free economic zone of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir state including Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Baltistan with being quite ambiguous on the political authority of these regions.
However, he on Tuesday stunned even his own supporters by pleading for what many could deem as repetition of 1947, when India and Pakistan were divided on religious lines.
Sajjad accused police of play villain against him by preventing people from attending the rally. "A large number of people were intending to attend the rally. They have been stuck in traffic jams. The police is not doing anything to clear the jam. I personally pleaded with the police to clear the roads but they seemed to be obeying the orders of their seniors. But the chief minister must know how people behave. They left behind their vehicles and walked on foot to attend my rally," he said.
Sajjad’s elder brother Bilal Gani, who head a separate faction of the Peoples Conference, joined Mirwaiz Ummer Farooq on Monday to commemorate the death anniversary of his father.