The ruling National Conference's poll campaign in Kashmir was rocked by two explosions within a span of 30 minutes on Sunday.
Union Minister and Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) candidate Farooq Abdullah addressing an election campaign rally in Budgam. (PTI Photo)
The first occurred in the highly volatile Khanyar area of Srinagar at 11.30am, metres away from the spot from where NC's Srinagar candidate and Union minister Farooq Abdullah addressed crowds later in the day.
The second took place in central Kashmir's Budgam district, again close to an NC rally venue. The police said 14 people were injured in the blast.
"These explosions will not deter me and should also not deter you from coming out and voting for the National Conference… Pray to God to save us from communal forces so that we can move forward. India cannot become communal. If it becomes communal, then Kashmir will not remain with India. Communalism is not acceptable to Kashmiris," Farooq Abdullah told the people gathered at Khanyar.
In a dig at BJP leader Giriraj Singh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Praveen Togadia, he said, “They say those who do not vote for (Narendra) Modi should go to Pakistan. (I say) Those who vote for Modi should drown in the sea."
In Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back at Farooq Abdullah over his remarks, saying India does not need a certificate from him to become secular.
“Neither the country nor Jammu and Kashmir need a certificate from Farooq Abdullah to become secular. The actual matter of worry is the corrupt government run in Jammu and Kashmir by Abdullah and his son (Omar),” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
On Farooq Abdullah’s “drown in the sea” remark, Prasad said, “I think neither will his party or the people of the state take him seriously.”
Srinagar goes to polls on April 30. In the run-up to the polls in south Kashmir's Anantnag constituency recently, militants killed six people, including sarpanches and policemen.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to hit out after the blasts. "While I have no doubt that an effort will be made to derail the electoral process, these violent forces will not be allowed to succeed... What's the point of issuing a poll boycott call if you can't terrorise people into obeying it," he wrote.
Reacting to the first blast, the CM as well as the state police maintained it was not a terror attack. A forensic team was, however, deployed soon after to probe both blasts.
Meanwhile, indigenous militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks. It's spokesman Balagudeen called locan news services and claimed responsibility.
(With inputs from PTI)