The sarpanch killings in Kashmir have increased the threat to the already threatened elections. Chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah says elections have tied his hands, but promises to ensure safety of grassroots representatives once the model code of conduct is lifted. Excerpts from an interview:
How do you view the security after the killings of three panchayat representatives?
Killings of panchayat representatives have happened in the past but media are taking about it because of the elections. Foot soldiers of political parties have always been attacked during elections. No government has been able to protect everybody.
There have been requests for individual security.
Providing individual security to all panchayat members would not be possible.
Will the killings impact the voter turnout?
Of course it will. This is by design. The people who are fighting an ideological battle based on secular arguments resort to violence to impose their will on people. To give a call for boycott is fine but the people must be given the freedom whether or not to follow the call.
Panchayat leaders are being identified with political parties after contesting the rural elections apolitically. Has that increased the threat?
The panchayat polls were fought on non-party basis but PDP (People’s Democratic Party) started the trend of identifying its representatives. But then, militants know who is associated with whom. The grassroots knowledge of Hizbul Mujahideen was used successfully against NC.
PDP is saying the killings are in areas where they have support so that boycott can be enforced.
They mean we are getting our own workers killed so that they don’t get votes? That’s ridiculous. Have they criticised (hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah) Geelani for his call? Talk to me the day
PDP criticises him.
BJP leader Giriraj Singh said Modi critics should go to Pakistan. Will you?
Yes. If there is no place in India for critics of Narendra Modi what choice is one left with? I will always keep opposing him.