Protecting Article 370 top priority: Akbar Lone

After winning the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, NC’s Mohammad Akbar Lone is looking forward to defend Article 370 and take steps to find a resolution to the Kashmir issue. Lone spells out his priorities and goals.

As the NC will be representing all three Lok Sabha seats from Kashmir in Parliament, what will be your priorities?
Our biggest priority will be to safeguard Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution in Parliament. Our party will also strive for the resolution of the Kashmir issue…this has been our motive always.

What will be your approach with BJP at the Centre as they have vowed to scrap Articles 370 and 35A that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir?
I want to tell you openly…they (BJP) will not be able to touch it. Do they want to separate Kashmir from India? Only then it (Article 370 abrogation) can happen…otherwise not. They cannot issue fatwas like that…rivers of blood will flow here, peace won’t prevail anywhere (if the Article is abrogated). A Kashmiri cannot be taken for granted.

Do you think the Lok Sabha poll trend in NC’s favour would continue in the Assembly elections?
We have already put forward our motive (safeguarding Article 370 and K-issue resolution) and we will carry forward the same in the Assembly elections. We are ready and have already started the preparations. We will fight the Assembly elections with full force and win seats not just from the Valley, but from the Jammu and Ladakh regions as well.

How will you reach out to Jammu people as NC has not done well in the region in the past? And besides two LS seats in Jammu, BJP won the Ladakh seat as well.
There are pockets in the Jammu region where we have a say and we will continue to work there in future as well. We are confident that we will perform well in Jammu as well as Ladakh in the Assembly elections.

You got the maximum vote share in Bandipora district but in several segments of Kupwara and Baramulla, especially Handwara and Uri, people favoured Engineer Rasheed and PC’s Raja Aijaz Ali.
I want to tell you that we stayed behind a bit in Handwara but in Kupwara (town), we took a lead. Now, our aim is to prepare for the Assembly elections…reach out to people at the grassroots and repeat the good show. We reached out to people across the Valley in the parliamentary elections, but in the Assembly polls, we will reach out to public across the state.