Sajjad Lone is a Minister for Social Welfare and Science & Technology. He is one of the tallest leaders in the political establishment of Jammu and Kashmir. An MLA from Handwara, Lone is the youngest son of Abdul Ghani Lone – who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at a public meeting in Srinagar on May 21, 2002.
Sajjad Lone, who was formerly a leader of the Hurriyat Conference, joined mainstream politics by founding People’s Conference after the assassination of his father. He is one of the two politicians from the party elected to the J&K Legislative Assembly following the 2014 state elections.
His wife, Asma, is the only child of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder and Pakistani national Amanullah Khan. Lone is a former Separatist leader who is now seen as pro-India by the Separatists and their supporters in Kashmir.
A part of the alliance government in the state since 2014, Lone shot to national prominence after his much publicized meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2014. Following that meeting, Lone became one of the few J&K politicians who would effusively praise the PM.
Lone had said:
“The PM is a great human being. I was pleasantly surprised with his down-to-earth personality, his vision about bringing in investments into the state. I could not make out whether I am talking to the PM or my older brother.”
That “older brother” remark did the rounds of mainstream media. Turns out that Lone was not just making a statement before the press, he was serious about his praise for the PM.
A video now doing the rounds of the Internet shows Lone speaking in the J&K Assembly.
In the video, he is heard praising the PM, criticizing both the National Conference and the Congress parties, and accusing Omar Abdullah of politicizing the deaths during the 2016-17 Kashmir agitation.
The video was shot in January 2017 during the ongoing 2016-17 Kashmir unrest, which started with the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, and before the government decided to remove the use of pellet guns.
Here are excerpts from his speech:
1. When I met Modi I was a bit worried: Should I go or shouldn’t I?
2. To those who call our alliance “unholy”, those with whom you (NC) were in alliance were “holy”?!
3. If there is any political party which can be called ‘Number 1’ in killing, it is the Congress not the BJP. (Assembly erupts in resounding applause.)
4. I am thankful to BJP: they gave me passport, gave my little kids visa. These people (NC) didn’t give anything to me.
5. When the BJP government came, I immediately got the passport/visas. May Allah keep Modi-ji happy!
6. NC and Congress have a record in corruption and communal riots. No one can beat you in that.
7. We didn’t bring them (pellet guns), NC brought them. Who wants to kill own people?! There was this sudden issue (the agitation) which forced the police to use them. Why did the NC bring the pellet guns? To play Holi?!
Lone’s closeness with the Center is making him a target of the anti-India forces in the Valley. According to a report by a Kashmiri daily, security forces foiled an assassination attempt on Lone by Hizbul Mujahideen. New Delhi has reportedly told the J&K government to immediately beef up personal security and house protection of Lone.