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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Violence shadows campaign in Valley

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, April 23, 2014
First Published: 13:34 IST(23/4/2014) | Last Updated: 13:37 IST(23/4/2014)

Political parties’ campaign ended on a sour note in south Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency on Tuesday as militants ’ multiple attacks infused a sense of fear on the ground just two days ahead of polls.

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While Congress party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad cancelled his scheduled rally at Tral, the epicentre of militant violence on Monday night, opposition People Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Mehbooba Mufti’s rally at her assembly constituency Wachi, in Pulwama district, saw a very thin attendance of supporters on the last date of campaigning for Anantnag, going for polls on April 24.

Around 500 supporters, lowest ever, for any public meeti ng organised by the party, attended the concluding speech of Mehbooba for the Anantnag campaign.

Fear was palpable in the area with people preferring not to speak on the orientation of voters now, a reverse situation from the enthusiasm noticed two weeks ago.

Militancy has picked up in south Kahsmir this year. A security agencies’ report suggest that around 30 militants are out to disturb polls.

Wearing a bullet-proof jacket, Mehbooba’s speech was dominated by the three attacks carried out in Pulwama district on Monday night, which left a sarpanch, his son, and a lumberdar dead in Tral.

Another sarpanch escaped unhurt in a separate attack in Pulwama, which the PDP claims its bastion.
Tral area observed a complete shutdown after the killing of the father-son duo.

“The dance of death timed only to benefit the NC in the elections as that party is the sole beneficiary of poll boycott,” said visibly shaken Mehbooba.

Denouncing the militant violence, Mehbooba said, “NC is looking at boycott as the only way to prevent its rout as it has failed the state on every front from the hanging of Afzal Guru to non-availability of rations.”

She said the killings on Monday evening “represents another failure of the Omar Abdullah’s government, which instead of providing an atmosphere of security is contributing to creation of scare to keep voters away from polling booths.”

She also questioned the timing and the areas chosen for militant attacks. “All attacks have come in areas where the PDP is dominating,” she added.

Mehbooba is pitted against NC’s sitting member of parliament Mehboob Beg in a tight contest. While Mehbooba won the 2004 parliament polls by over 40,000 votes, the party last to Beg by around 5,000 votes in the previous polls.

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