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Kashmir separatist calls for ‘civil disobedience movement’

Srinagar, June 06, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk) :

Senior Kashmiri separatist leader Sajjad Gani Lone here Thursday said he would initiate a “civil disobedience movement” against “engineering of ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims at the bureaucratic level”.

Addressing a crowded news conference here, chairman of one of the factions of the Peoples Conference, Sajjad Lone said that the government was constantly ignoring Kashmiris in developmental works and keeping them at bay from decision making.

He threatened to stop the functioning of the civil secretariat in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir, if the government does not reverse such decisions.

Citing the example of the recently declared results of Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) exams, Lone said that the people from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region of this only Muslim majority state of India had got all the favours.

The toppers in the KAS list, who would within a few years be promoted to the deputy secretary level in the state bureaucracy and play a vital role in the state administration, are mostly from the Jammu region.

Lone called upon that the state to scrap the procedure of the open merit selection in such exams. “It is insane expecting a Kashmiri Muslim youth, who was at the receiving end of troopers during infamous crackdowns carried in every nook and corner of Kashmir valley, to compete with youth from outside the conflict-hit valley,” he said.

Lone, who is considered to be one of the few Kashmiri separatist leaders close to New Delhi, said India was ruining the future generations of Kashmir by not allowing their proper representation at the bureaucratic level.

“Kashmir share in bureaucracy is only 20 per cent,” he said adding that the indifferent attitude of New Delhi and successive state governments was leaving Kashmir under represented.

“In fact New Delhi wants Kashmir to remain under represented,” he said.

Tracing the history of state’s bureaucracy and administration prior to 1947 when Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by the “oppressive” Dogra rulers, Lone said that the Kashmiri Muslim representation in the state bureaucracy then was zero per cent. “New Delhi aims to take the state back to those days,” he added.

He said that his party would constitute a five-member team, which would look into the aspect of elbow necking of Kashmiris from the bureaucracy and administration.

Sajjad Lone came to prominence on Kashmir scene after his father and veteran separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone was assassinated by unidentified gunmen on May 21, 2002.

Sajjad Lone also lashed at New Delhi for squandering the funds meant for the development of Kashmir valley on Jammu region.

Giving example of the Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) operating in the state, Lone said that the amount released from the Prime Minster’s funds for the reconstruction of the conflict-ravaged Kashmir region were being misspent on Jammu region, which had not suffered as heavily as the Kashmir region.

Lone also downplayed suggestions of participating in elections for the lower house of the state legislature. “If we had to participate in elections, we would have done it in 2002 soon after the assassination of my father. I then would have become a hero and New Delhi too would have got their Man Friday. We will not participate in elections as long as the peace process continues like it is,” Lone said while expressing his pessimism over the parleys between New Delhi and Islamabad for the resolution of the 59-year old Kashmir dispute.

He also ridiculed the mainstream political parties for criticizing his comments of letting the people of different districts of Hindu-dominated Jammu region and Buddhist-dominated cold-desert region of Ladakh to decide their own fate by allowing them to “opt-out” of Kashmir.

Lone said that he stands by the statement he made on May 22 this year during a public rally organised to observe the death anniversary of his father.

Lone’s comments were not well taken by many political parties, both mainstream and separatist saying that resolution of Kashmir dispute on religious and ethnic lines was “unacceptable”.

He also disgraced the local cable TV channels operating in the state for twisting the facts. “After my ‘opt-out’ statement, all these channels started debate over the issue and invited political leaders from every other party except my Peoples Conference, who could have removed their doubts,” Lone said.

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