Sajjad Lone, from being a separatist to minister

  • Peerzada Ashiq, None, Srinagar
  • Updated: Mar 02, 2015 08:53 IST

The political career of separatist-turned-mainstream leader Sajjad Lone, heading assassinated firebrand separatist Abdul Gani Lone's party People's Conference (PC), came a full circle on Sunday when he took oath by the Indian constitution to upheld Jammu and Kashmir's integrity.

Lone, 47, was a firebrand separatist till the street protests of 2010 and has remained an active member of the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat.

Son of the founder member of the Hurriyat Conference leader who was assassinated by unknown gunmen in 2002 in Srinagar, junior Lone is married to Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder member and in charge of Pakistan chapter Amanullah Khan.

Lone's wife campaigned for him in north Kashmir's Handwara and Kupwara constituencies, considered to be the bastion of the the People's Conference.

His brother Bilal Lone and lawyer sister Shabnum Lone believe in different politics. While Bilal's People's Conference is a constituent of the moderate Hurriyat of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, sister Shabnum decided to shelve electoral politics after she failed to garner more than 8,000 votes in the Lok Sabha elections in 2008.

A protagonist of "achievable nationhood", seeking erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir as a single economic entity with separate sovereignty linkages with India and Pakistan, Lone changed his politics immediately after his father's assassination. He blames Pakistan's ISI for his father's killing.

Lone, who on Sunday became first influential separatist to take oath on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministerial berth, shot to limelight in 2014 when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to boost his electoral gains in the state.

Lone, with a degree from Cardiff University in the US, fielded dozens of candidates from the Kashmir valley and won two seats of Kupwara and Handwara.

He remains a bête noire of hardline separatist Syed Ali Geelani for his style of politics and believes that democratic process can help in addressing issues concerning the people of Kashmir.

However, his entry into the council of ministers saw many hiccups. It was only after he decided to stay put in Srinagar on Saturday in protest and called up people in Delhi that he was able to salvage a ministerial berth, crucial for him to revive his father's 40-year-old political legacy in north Kashmir.

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