The moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, won’t call for a boycott of the Lok Sabha elections, which kicked off on Thursday.
It is for the first time that the separatist group has decided not to call for boycott of polls and de-linked the elections from the Kashmir issue.
The move is significant as it comes just days after prominent separatist leader Sajjad Lone announced his decision to contest from Baramulla. As also the fact that the same group had, six months ago, called for boycotting Assembly elections in the Valley.
However, the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, as expected, has called for boycotting of polls.
After three days of talks, the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat said the elections were a non-issue and no alternative to “the right to self-determination.” But, it did not specifically ask the people to stay away from polls.
“We have left the decision to Kashmiris and tried to educate them about the elections and its context vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue,” Hurriyat spokesman Saleem Geelani told Hindustan Times. He said polls had nothing to do with the resolution of Kashmir issue.
The Mirwaiz faction also criticised the United Jehad Council (UJC), an umbrella organisation of 13 militant outfits based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), for asking Kashmiris to boycott the election. “To cast votes in elections would mean strengthening Indian hands and expressing confidence in its tyrannical rule in J&K,” UJC chairman and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin said. During the assembly poll, he had said militants would not interfere in elections in J&K.