A panchayat poll candidate shot at by militants in Sopore in north Kashmir on Tuesday has refused to be cowed down by the threat and decided not to withdraw from the contest.
Mohmmad Maqbool’s decision to stand up to the militants is a first during the panchayat polls, as mass withdrawal of candidature was seen after two earlier attacks.
Maqbool, 65, who suffered injuries on his leg, is a Congress worker. “It is my moral duty to contest the elections and I will do so. I am willing to die for my people and party,” he said on Wednesday.
Maqbool is contesting from Wadoora village, 50 km north of Srinagar, where polling would be held on May 25. He was attacked in the village and is the second candidate to be shot at in the past week in Sopore area.
On May 10, Ghulam Mohiddin Chopan was shot at and injured. On April 15, militants killed a woman candidate in Budgam. So far, seven phases of the 16-phase panchayat elections have been completed. Polling for the final phase would be held on June 6.
More than 80% turnout has been recorded in the seven phases despite a boycott call given by the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference and the militant threat made clear through posters.
After the attack on Maqbool, inspector general of police, Kashmir, SM Sahai said: “If he wants security we can assess and take a decision accordingly.”
Sahai, however, admitted that providing security to each candidate would not be possible. “There are 15,000 constituencies and each constituency has multiple candidates, so we cannot provide security to all of them. But we can look at security on an individual basis,” he added.