Kashmir issue: The untold reality behind stone-pelters of the valley

it is immaterial whether it is 5% or more or even less, but it is this small percentage that has been calling the shots now for almost two months. They can do it only because the other 95% are silent and suffering
Srinagar : Under the shadow of the gun and curfew

‘5% versus 95%’, a simple arithmetical term, has become the most discussed and talked-about subject in both electronic and print media during the past one month of unrest in Kashmir. This figure was casually uttered by Sajjad Gani Lone while he was being interviewed by Barkha Dutt, a senior journalist and one of the self-proclaimed Kashmir ‘experts’, in Srinagar some three weeks ago.

A brief introduction of Sajjad Gani Lone will be in place here. He is a minister with a Cabinet rank in the J&K government headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. More importantly, he is the son of the late Abdul Gani Lone, who began his political career as a poor peasant boy from an extremely backward and a remote border village of Handwara in North Kashmir.

He was elected for the first time to the J&K Legislative Assembly from Handwara constituency and rose to be a Cabinet minister when Syed Mir Qasim was the J&K Chief Minister in the 70s. He later founded his own political party under the name and style of J&K Peoples’ Conference. He was the chairman of the party, the post that is now held by Sajjad Gani Lone.When militancy and insurgency engulfed Kashmir Valley in 1989-90, Gani Lone (he was fondly addressed as such by thousands of his followers and fans) too started a terrorist outfit and it was known as AL BARRAQ.

Though considered to be a moderate and progressive, he was deeply associated with rabidly anti-India and secessionist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and ironically he was shot dead on May 21, 2002, while addressing a rally of the same amalgam in Srinagar. Sajjad Gani Lone directly and boldly accused the Hizbul Mujahideen of murdering his father. Incidentally, APHC chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani is widely considered to be the godfather of Hizbul-Mujahideen. Sajjad Gani Lone is happily married to the daughter of Aman Ullah Khan, co-founder of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front. The marriage was solemnized in 2000 in Islamabad, Pakistan, and was attended by some non-Muslim guests from India, too.

Sajjad Gani Lone lucidly explained that out of the 70 lakh population of Kashmir Valley, it is even less than 5 per cent who are involved in stone pelting and other violent demonstrations. True, but this small fraction is holding the entire state to ransom. So, it is immaterial whether it is 5 per cent or more or even less, but it is this small percentage that has been calling the shots now for almost two months. They can do it only because the other 95 per cent are silent and suffering. Their silence is interpreted as their tacit approval. It is unfortunate that a vast majority of Muslims allow themselves to be silenced by a minuscule minority of gun-wielding fanatics anywhere in the world. Muslims by and large are convinced that the interpretation of Islam by these fanatics is un-Islamic, but their silence works as a much bigger weapon than the guns for this small group of fanatics.

Even when Muzaffar Baig MP, a law graduate from Harvard, and Mehbooba Mufti, the Chief Minister of the State, endorse the percentage term that Sajjad coined, it makes no difference. With the massive mandate they got in last Assembly elections, they got to motivate this silent 95 per cent of the suffering masses to break their silence and ensure that the children are allowed to go to school, the sick to the hospitals to start with at least.

And let me tell you something, we, Kashmiris, can turn the equation upside down in a jiffy and I am confident it will no longer be 5% versus 95%, but 95% versus 5%.