Remembering Abdul Gani Lone

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The founder of Peoples conference Abdul Ghani Lone was born in Dard Harr village of Kupwara district on the June 5, 1932. He completed his LLB degree from Aligarh Muslim University in 1957 and subsequently joined the Bar. He made his first entry into politics serving in the state assembly as a Congress candidate in 1967.  Lone in 1969 became Deputy Minister for Irrigation and Power and during the period of the Chief Ministership of Mir Qasim, he was promoted to State Minister of Education and Health. He was made a Cabinet Minister in 1972. In 1973 h resigned. Since then, he was in the opposition.

His life and political career were full of difficult experiences. In his own words he said that when he was in the ninth class at school, he was arrested in a conspiracy case in 1949 at the house of a local school-teacher who was suspected by the authorities of planning an armed uprising.  He was then a very young man. ‘As far as I can recollect, there was a group of people in those days that took a decision to launch an armed struggle. The Indian police seized some weapons. The house where I was living at the time was searched. I wasn’t directly involved in the case. When the authorities came to arrest the owner of the house, they arrested me too. I was detained for two months and then released.’

By 1967, at the age of 35, Mr Lone was not only a well-known lawyer but had been elected to Kashmir’s Legislative Assembly on a Congress Party ticket. He left the government in 1973 and later, in 1976 Indira Gandhi expelled him from the Congress Party. In 1977 he fought the election on the Janata Party ticket. Chandrashekar and his group were supposed to be liberal people. In an interview, he said “that he was going to fight the election on his own but local supporters of the Janata Party, including Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq and others, wanted to fight Sheikh Abdullah. They prevailed upon me saying that I should not fight separately. It was a difficult challenge for them to fight the “tall” Sheikh Abdullah. So, I fought that election on the Janata Party ticket and won. Only two of us won seats. However, within a year I resigned from the Janata Party and formed the People’s Conference. It was the same problem. At that point, we were fighting for the restoration of “internal autonomy” in Kashmir.”

He has said that “his party joined the MUF but their admission to the Front was later “cancelled”. The opposition parties that existed then joined together and he was approached as well. The view was that they should put up a united front so that there should not be the division of votes. The leaders were then all in detention. He too was detained.

He formed a Kashmiri separatist organisation called People’s Conference in 1978 and dedicated to “the restoration of ‘internal autonomy’ in Kashmir. While commemorating the twelfth anniversary of the death of Kashmiri leader, Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq on 21 May 2002, Mr Lone was mysteriously assassinated.

The life of Abdul Ghani Lone was a reflection of Kashmir’s journey through peril and tragedy. Mr Lone was much known in the political circles for his rivalries with the so-called tallest political figure of Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who is surprisingly known as Sher-e-Kashmir and Lone is called as Sher-e-Kupwara. Both roared many times at each other and fought even on the floor of the state legislature. There are many stories affiliated to Sheikh and Lone, in which both had used strongest words against each other. One interesting incident goes like this in 1978 when Sheikh Abdullah said to Ab Gani Lone: “Tum Char Sau Bees Hau.” Lone answered back in a flash, “Tum Aath Sau Chalees Hau”.

 

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