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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Guru's hanging, civilian deaths are separatists' plank for poll boycott

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, April 21, 2014
First Published: 22:30 IST(21/4/2014) | Last Updated: 22:32 IST(21/4/2014)

From pictures of executed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Maqbool Bhat to faces of 200 dead protesters, separatists publish pamphlets in lakhs and banners to dissuade voters in the Kashmir Valley.

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An on-line poll boycott campaign sees thousands of anti-polls posters on walls of social networking sites, recalling killings of civilians to seek pledges from prospective voters against polls.

Separatist Yasin Malik headed JKLF has printed more than one lakh pamphlets with pictures of Guru, hanged last year, and Bhat, hanged in 1984, to seek a pledge of boycott.

"Boycotting Indian elections is our moral and political right as well as duty because these elections are meant to weaken our struggle and voice," said JKLF chief Yasin Malik.

The authorities have detained Malik for the past three days as JKLF anti-poll boycott campaign reaches villages and towns.

JKLF activists also carried out door-to-door visits where pictures of the executed separatists and of the dead civilians, who died in security forces firing since 2009, with blood-oozing images were circulated.

"Casting vote is betrayal with Guru and Bhat," said Malik.

The online posters ask people "to revere unmarked graves", to ensure safety of woman and homes" by not participating in polls.

In the run up to the polls, the militants have also stepped up activities in south Kashmir, where two militant attacks left two cops and a sarpanch dead.

There is an attempt to infuse a sense of fear among mainstream leaders and their supporters ahead of polls, though the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-based United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of 13 militants groups including Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, has issued no threats to mainstream leaders.

However, UJC chief Syed Salahuddin has asked separatists to step up poll boycott campaign.

"Pro-freedom leaders, who are yet to start poll boycott campaign, should launch a massive anti-election campaign otherwise their tag of treachery will not fade till the day of judgment," said Salahuddin.

He said "no one will be allowed to betray the sacrifices offered by Kashmiri martyrs".

Most separatist groups, including Syed Ali Geelani headed hardline Hurriyat and breakaway faction of moderate Hurriyat, have attempted anti-poll rallies. But most of them have been foiled by the police by putting several into preventive custody.

Moderate Hurriyat chairman, who has desisted from boycott rallies, is now vehemently denouncing the mainstream parties and asking people to stay away from polls.

Meanwhile, the police have asked all police stations to prepare a list of "mischief-mongers" ahead of polls. In 2010, more than 10,000 youth were identified by the security agencies for participating in street agitation.

Kashmir Valley's Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar constituencies are going for polls on April 24, 30 and May 7 respectively.

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