Police in north Kashmir's Sopore area on Thursday said they are investigating posters purportedly issued by militants asking people to boycott the assembly polls. The posters have caused fear among residents who are now seeking help from election officials.
The anti-poll posters, written in Urdu on the letter head of Al Shohada brigade, a front for the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, asked people in Sopore to honour the memory of Afzal Guru who was hanged last year for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack.
Guru, who many believe was denied a fair trial and hanged out of turn, led to violence in the Valley. Sopore is Guru's hometown.
A police spokesperson in Srinagar said a few people have been arrested in connection with the posters. Other suspects are being questioned, the spokesperson added.
Local residents told HT that the posters called for a boycott seeking to convince voters that a vote "will amount to sell out". "Casting vote will amount to betraying the death of Afzal Guru, Maqbool bhat and other martyrs", the posters read. Maqbool Bhat, a separatist leader, was hanged nearly three decades before Guru.
Fearing reprisal, voters in Sopore and other constituencies in Baramulla district, which goes to polls in the third phase on December 9, have requested the election officers not to apply the indelible ink on their fingers after they cast the vote.
Sopore, hometown of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, is known for its separatist sentiment and saw only 5% percent voting in the recent Lok Sabha elections. However, it was until recently being touted as a sure seat by the BJP which was banking on boycott and the 2000-odd migrant Pandit votes.
However, the BJP eventually did not field any candidate as it did not find "any winning candidate".
In Sopore, the contest is between National Conference's Muhammad Ashraf Ganaie and Nazir Ahmad Naiko of the People's Democratic Party and Abdur Rashid Dar of the Congress.
Ganaie, who is the sitting MLA, had urged Geelani to reconsider his poll boycott call, arguing that it would benefit the BJP. He had also said that a BJP victory in Sopore would be given a "negative spin" by the national media.