EC held Lok Sabha bypolls in Kashmir despite state govt’s advice: Mehbooba
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday the Election Commission decided to go ahead with the Lok Sabha bypolls in Srinagar and Anantnag despite the state government’s advice that polls should not be held as the law and order situation was not conducive to hold elections.india Updated: Apr 14, 2017 16:37 IST
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday the Election Commission decided to go ahead with the Lok Sabha bypolls in Srinagar and Anantnag despite the state government’s advice that polls should not be held as the law and order situation was not conducive to hold elections.
Violent public protests marred voting in the Srinagar by-elections on April 9, which left 8 people dead and hundreds wounded. With only 7% voting, it was the worst turnout in the state in almost 30 years. It also forced the poll panel to postpone the Anantnag bypoll from April 12 to May 25.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had asked the EC to postpone the Anantnag bypoll to avoid a repeat of the Srinagar violence.
A repoll in 38 polling stations of the Srinagar constituency on Thursday recorded a dismal 1.99% voting.
“What we feared has happened. Violence and low turnout happened. Situation (in Kashmir) has turned hostile but they (ECI) didn’t listen,” the chief minister said.
Mufti and her deputy Nirmal Singh were in the winter capital to attend a ceremony of the state’s consumer affairs and public distribution department.
“I had cautioned them during our discussions that the situation is not conducive to hold elections. We told them that wounds are raw (post-Burhan Wani’s killing in July last year) and people are not mentally prepared,” she told the audience at the gathering.
She further said her fears have turned true and the situation in Kashmir was back to square one.
“Now, it will take time. And, when the situation in Kashmir turns bad, it impacts developmental works in Jammu and Ladakh regions, which also suffer. But I thank the people of Jammu for maintaining peace and normalcy,” she added.
She also said that the grievance of Kashmiri youth, who kept throwing stones, have not been addressed since 2008.
“None bothered to resolve their grievance and their pent-up frustration has now turned into lava,” she said.
Mufti described National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah as a “confused man” over his charge that the PDP-BJP government was funding the stone-throwers and her deputy Nirmal Kumar Singh accused him of playing “politics of deception”.
The deputy CM held him responsible for the present turmoil in the valley.
“He speaks in different tone and tenor … Gives different statements in Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu. He called stone throwers nationalists and now says that the government is paying them money, it is highly condemnable,” he said.
Singh also talked about a video clip that showed some men assaulting Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel on their way to poll duty in Srinagar on April 9. He said that an FIR has been lodged and some of the accused have already been caught.
The deputy chief minister heaped praise on the security personnel, saying that despite all the humiliation and provocations, they remained calm.
“These are our security forces. See how disciplined they are. Despite having weapons, they didn’t retaliate. They kept quiet and strictly followed the orders (of higher ups). At the same time, the government is strictly dealing with the culprits. An action under the law shall be initiated against them,” he added.
First Published: Apr 14, 2017 16:29 IST