Lone fervour grips Kupwara village as elections near

Lone fervour grips Kupwara village as elections near

As the vehicle with Peoples Conference (PC) chairman Sajjad Lone and party candidate for Handwara constituency of north Kashmir on board stops in this small hamlet, hundreds of his supporters jostled, climbed on trees and rooftops to extend their support.

When Lone, once a separatist, walked towards the makeshift stage to address the people, women showered him with flower petals and sang modified version of Kashmiri folk songs with inclusion of his name.

The massive gathering in Chek-Nantnusa, once called as Tora Bora of Kupwara due to high presence of militants there, was so pumped up to see British-educated Lone that they continuously shouted slogans in his favour.

As Lone started his address, the PC youth brigade continuously shouted “jeve, jeve Lone jeve” (long live Lone). “Winds of change are sweeping across the Valley and the Peoples Conference would emerge as a strong and morally acceptable political alternative to the existing political culture which is based on nepotism, corruption and the political dividends of oppression.” Lone told his supporters.

The PC chief, who recently held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, fuelling speculation that the BJP leadership could be propping up the PC to prevent Mehbooba Mufti's PDP from scoring an outright win, said, “Kashmiris have been denied of the right to dream of a better future by our traditional political parties as the dreams of the common man – of dignity, prosperity and progress – were detrimental to the manipulative political system these parties represent. It’s time for a Kashmiri to dream beyond the political and economic limits designed and enforced by the National Conference and the PDP.”

As Lone was making a high pitched speech, Abdul Gaffar Khan, a veteran PC worker among the gathering, shared his thoughts with this correspondent. “I am witnessing this kind of poll activity here for the first time after 1987 Assembly elections when Sajjad’s father late Abdul Gani Lone was contesting,” he told Deccan Herald.

Khan believes plunging of Sajjad Lone into mainstream politics has rejuvenated the PC cadre. “In the last 25 years, our district has been the worst victim of the conflict. We have seen only death and destruction all these years. But now, we hope our fortunes will change with the emergence of Sajjad sahib in the mainstream politics,” he added.

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