Bilal Lone says his path different, set to change name of his Peoples Conference

Will not betray my father’s cause, says Bilal Lone on Sajjad’s politics

The elder brother of Peoples Conference leader and BJP ally Sajad Lone is planning to change the name of his party to “end any confusion”. A senior separatist leader, Bilal Lone represents Peoples Conference (PC) in the Hurriyat Conference. Speaking to The Indian Express, Bilal said he will “permanently stay in pro-freedom politics” because that

Bilal Loene said he and his brother Sajjad Gani Lone (above) Sajad had separated politically a long ago.

The elder brother of Peoples Conference leader and BJP ally Sajad Lone is planning to change the name of his party to “end any confusion”. A senior separatist leader, Bilal Lone represents Peoples Conference (PC) in the Hurriyat Conference.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Bilal said he will “permanently stay in pro-freedom politics” because that is “the right path” and “the true legacy of his late father Abdul Gani Lone”.

He said he had called a meeting of his people “to take a decision to end this confusion about two PCs”, and that it is for those who comprise the party to decide whether to go with the mainstream or stay with him. “I can tell them my point of view. I can’t force anybody. I have a very strong group of followers who are with me and will hopefully continue to be with me,’’ he said.

“Sajad and I have separated politically a long time ago… For all practical purposes, these are two parties now with two different and distinct political ideologies,” Bilal said.

He said that Sajad had invited him once to also join the mainstream. “He said join me so that together we would be stronger as a political force. I said thanks a lot, I am fine where I am. It was a very brief conversation… He never asked me again.”

Bilal said for him, decisions such as being part of the Hurriyat were a “lifelong commitment”. “My father died for his beliefs and principles, I will try in my way to carry his legacy forward… I am on the right path, the path my father had chosen for himself and his party.”

Joining the Hurriyat was “a good decision”, he said, and “I will always stand by it.”

About Sajad and his politics, he said, “I am not a judge to voice my opinion about anyone else. Kashmir is a big place, everybody has his or her own way of thinking. We should know how to co-exist. I have taken my decision and he has taken his. My only wish is he takes care of Kashmiri aspirations while he is in the mainstream.”

Bilal said they had left the bitter fights they had over the issue behind. “We didn’t even talk for years… five-six years. Then we decided that we need to allow each other to take our own paths.”

About how they could go on different paths politically when their support base was the same, Bilal said, “I am not in electoral politics. We are here for a bigger cause, much bigger than getting elected to the Assembly or forming a government… The Hurriyat does not have problem with it. But if they do, I will retire from politics.”
Does he think the Hurriyat will be able to sustain politically? “I think there is room to do more. The Hurriyat should live, the Hurriyat should move ahead and take decisions for the sake of the people,” Bilal said.

Regarding the surge in militancy, Bilal said, “There is a lot of repression and nobody in the world is listening to our pain. But we can’t allow our young children to keep on getting killed like this. The leadership should jointly take a call. Don’t know whether they will succeed… These boys take their own decisions,” he said. “I feel for them, but I feel helpless.”

At the same time, Bilal said, status quo was not an option for Kashmir. “Status quo may suit India or Pakistan, but status quo is not good for Kashmiris,” he said, adding, “Unless and until there are talks, nothing is going to change.”

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