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Lone moves from separatism to the mainstream


Mufti Islah,CNN-IBN
May 12, 2009 at 04:01pm IST

Srinagar: He was the face of Amaranth agitation, a fierce defender of separatism on television, but in a strange turnaround, he has given up that stand to go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls. The eloquent Sajjad is contesting from Baramulla where National Conference and PDP are strong contendors.

"I want to go to a bigger platform to raise the Kashmiri voice and my appeal is to every Kashmiri that if I have the capability to articulate your aspirations in the Indian Parliament, please vote for me," says he.

But the decision has ruffled many feathers, including those of his own family. His sister Shabnum - who contested unsuccessfully in the state Assembly polls - remains estranged and brother Bilal Gani Lone, top leader of moderate Hurriyat Conference says Sajjad's decision is contrary to the ideals of their father.

"I tried to convince him not to run in the elections but I failed," says Bilal.

Fellow separatist Syed Ali Geelani has however, dismissed Sajjad's move as "irrelevant to Kashmir struggle". Geelani has chosen to appeal for a poll boycott.

For a long time, Sajjad Lone flirted with separatism although it appeared his heart was not in it, but now that he is plunging in the electoral politics of the country, he has moved away from the stand that his father took long ago and his brother continues to latch on to.

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