Prominent separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has appealed to non-Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir to join their Muslim brethren in boycotting the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Geelani, who heads the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, has issued poll-boycott calls in the past as well, but this is the first time he has specifically called upon the non-Muslims also to refrain from voting.
The Hurriyat leader's call comes in reaction to RSS leader Indresh Kumar's speech in Delhi two days ago, wherein he urged the people of Jammu and Kashmir to vote for the BJP.
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"Elect the BJP…so that the lost 'Kashmiriyat' could be brought back and industrialisation, education and Indianisation starts," Kumar had said.
Kumar's speech, particularly the promise to "Indianise" the strife-torn state, has not gone down too well in the separatist camp.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Geelani said the BJP has charged the situation in the state with "fanatic ideology" and accused it of adopting power politics to fulfill its agenda.
"They do not follow a fair policy with respect to Kashmir, instead are hell-bent to exploit its might and suppressive policy against people of Kashmir," Geelani alleged.
"We hope all sects including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians will boycott polls," he added.
Another senior separatist leader and Chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Muhammad Yasin Malik, has also lambasted the RSS leader for his speech.
"RSS, BJP and all those who think they can conquer are living in a fool's paradise," Malik said.
"Jammu and Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and so-called elections can never Indianize Kashmir," he added. Malik is behind the bars for starting an anti-poll campaign in the valley.