The huge voter turnout in the just-concluded elections in J&K has found separatist leaders blaming each other for the failure of their poll boycott campaign.
The signs of discord are becoming more visible with the Coordination Committee, formed in the backdrop of the Amarnath land row, becoming the first casualty. It now exists on paper only.
“Where is the Coordination Committee now? It has been thrown into a dustbin. I will not be part of this committee till the deadwood is removed. It is high time to remove leaders who are a liability to the freedom struggle,” Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Aasiya Andrabi told HT.
But Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was a staunch advocate of poll boycott, has a different take on the poll results. Accusing India of cashing in on people’s weaknesses, Geelani said, “We’ve to accept that people voted for roads and jobs. These elections have been unique in J&K’s history. The government used new tactics to ensure huge participation. There were about 30-40 candidates contesting from each constituency.”
Bickerings within the separatist camp came to the fore with the war of words between Tehreek-I-Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone. Geelani called Sajjad Lone’s poll boycott call “a sham”.
Retorting to Geelani’s tirade against him, Sajjad Lone said he followed the predominant opinion despite being against election boycott in principle. “I could do nothing about my workers contesting except expel them,” he said.
Political observers feel the separatists were now looking for “opportunities and issues” to regroup and reactivate their cadre. “They are now raking up the Afzal Guru issue when it is no issue at all. This is only to whip up passions,” said an expert on Kashmir affairs.