SRINAGAR: Sajjad Lone, a minister in the ruling coalition, in an interview on television said that only 5 percent people are involved in the present uprising in Kashmir. According to him 95 percent people are sitting inside their homes. (This was repeated later by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti). He also added that all the people involved in the uprising fall in BPL (below poverty line) category.

A little bit of background here will be in order. Sajjad Lone’s collaboration and somersault are more pathetic because of his background. One really feels sad for him! His father Abdul Ghani Lone gave his life for propagating an independent viewpoint. Allegedly, he was assassinated by people from across the border for propagating an independent outlook for Kashmiris.

Sajjad Lone was also part of the Hurriyat Conference as member of the Peoples’ Conference, a constituent of the conglomerate. It is alleged that he was responsible for the split in the conglomerate which had been formed to jointly pursue the agenda for Kashmir’s freedom. He had sponsored proxy candidates in the 2002 elections which had been boycotted by the Hurriyat Conference. This resulted in a split in the conglomerate.

Perhaps the best rebuttal now to Lone and his 5% statement has come from the Army Commander Lt. Gen, DS Hooda, who in a statement spoke of the need for dialogue with all, including separatists, as normalcy can in the Valley cannot be achieved by one individual or any one organisation.

The Army has taken over most of the highways and has conducted motorised flag marches. BSF has again been deployed in Srinagar after 12 years! Nothing more is needed to impress about the extent and the gravity of the situation. Even the Union Home Minister has admitted that the situation is serious.

The 5% claim would still make it 3, 50,000 which is not a “handful” of people! Regarding people being below poverty line (BPL), well no revolution in the world has been started by upper classes. It is always, the proletariat, the poor, who have nothing to lose but their chains!

Omar Abdullah has challenged Sajjad Lone to hold a public rally in Handwara or Kupwara and just spend a day there!

It is a pity that a promising young man who spent days in the serene environs of Gulmarg to write his treatise for an “Achievable Nationhood” for Kashmir is now chewing the spuds purely to satiate his lust for power!

The least he can do to redeem himself is to resign and apologise to his constituents for his political somersaults and revisit what he has chosen to ignore and dismiss.

(Mohammad Ashraf is a retired government official of Jammu and Kashmir. He was Director General Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir)