Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday a string of militant strikes ahead of the third phase of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir was an attack on democracy as security agencies tightened security ahead of his first election rally in Srinagar.
Modi is due to address a campaign rally on Monday at Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir stadium, which lies just 10 km from the site of one of Friday’s attacks which intelligence officials said were aimed at dissuading people from attending the event.
“This is a shameless attack on India’s democracy,” Modi told an election meeting in Jharkhand on Saturday, a day after the attacks in Kashmir that left 21 people dead. He earlier condemned the strikes as “desperate attempts” to derail the atmosphere of hope created by the high voter turnout in the first two phases of the election.
India’s brave security personnel gave a befitting reply to them, Modi said, while addressing an election rally at a packed Gandhi Maidan in Hazaribagh district which is set for the third phase of assembly elections on December 9.
Authorities, meanwhile, threw a multi-tier security cordon around the stadium and set up checkpoints across the city as police said Modi's rally could have been on the radar of militants. “Adequate security arrangements are in place for the rally,” said deputy inspector general of police Afadul Mujtaba.
Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a shutdown to protest against the prime minister’s visit for his first public rally in the Kashmir Valley as the BJP makes its most serious bid yet to gain power in the Muslim-majority state.
Kashmiris will vote amid tight security in the third phase of the assembly election on Tuesday after an over 70% turnout in the first two rounds in defiance of a poll boycott call by separatists.
Unfazed by the string of militant strikes, thousands of BJP workers are ready to paint Srinagar saffron for the prime minister’s visit.
The party plans to deck up the city with some 6,000 banners and flags and organise thousands of roses in the dead of winter to make the rally a massive show of strength.
“The stage is set for the rally and we are sure the people of Kashmir will respond with a ballot for bullet,” said union minister and BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain. “Modi lives in the heart of the people of the Valley. He has always been here when they needed him.”