Peoples’ Conference president Sajjad Lone on Wednesday blamed the rigging of assembly elections three decades ago for Kashmir’s gun culture and “filling up of graveyards.”

Lone, who took oath as president of the Peoples’ Conference in the presence of hundreds of party workers, on Wednesday, said, “Those who rigged the elections in 1987 are responsible for filling of graveyards in Kashmir. Had the rigging not taken place, we would have never faced gun here.”

Training his guns at the National Conference and Congress, without naming them, he said, “Everybody is questioned these days. Even if somebody provided food to militants three decades ago, they are questioned now. However, nobody questions those who rigged the assembly elections in 1987.”

‘Are in politically unique times’

Lone described the current times as distinctively painful and politically unique in terms of the challenges it poses to the different sections of leadership in J&K. He said that leadership has different definitions at different times and in present times leadership would entail saving people, leadership would mean preserving our youth and leadership demands speaking the truth to the people.

“One of the easiest things in politics is to resort to lies and innuendo. And the most difficult thing is to speak the truth in the face of adversity. We in the People’s Conference will strive to ensure that we speak the truth and lead with honesty and courage,” he said, adding that it is time that the leadership variables are reset.

“Let leaders lead with the courage to speak the truth and let the people of J&K follow those who speak the truth. Safeguarding the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth, is the biggest leadership challenge in current times and that the Peoples’ Conference will do everything in its power to protect a common Kashmiri from being victimised,” he said.

Saying that his party has a legacy of sacrifice, he said Peoples’ Conference will continue to strive to accord people a dignified way of living. “We will make every effort to promote political inclusiveness and tirelessly strive to restore and retrieve the glorious political legacy that the people of J&K deserve. A unique legacy, which we all cherished and zealously guarded for so long. We will do what it takes to ensure that legacy is restored,” he said.