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Kashmiri separatists call for poll boycott, say process ‘propagated as verdict in India’s favour’

Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq issued the poll boycott appeal under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership. Separatists have routinely issued poll boycott calls since elections were conducted first in 1996.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2018 20:55 IST
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
separatists,poll boycott,Kashmir
The municipal and panchayat polls are being held in the state after over a decade in October and November. The state government has deputed over 15,000 additional paramilitary forces to conduct the polls amid a spike in the militant violence.(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Kashmiri separatists on Monday called for a boycott of the local bodies’ polls in Jammu and Kashmir, saying people’s participation in elections are propagated “as a verdict in India’s favour”.

The municipal and panchayat polls are being held in the state after over a decade in October and November. The state government has deputed over 15,000 additional paramilitary forces to conduct the polls amid a spike in the militant violence.

Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq issued the poll boycott appeal under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). Separatists have routinely issued poll boycott calls since elections were conducted first in 1996 following the beginning of an armed insurgency in Kashmir in the 1980s.

“India uses it (polls) as a means to dilute Jammu and Kashmir’s disputed status and to undo the holding of a referendum as promised at the United Nation,’’ the three said in a statement after a JRL meeting.

The statement referred to the petition in the Supreme Court against the Constitution’s Article 35 that allows the Jammu and Kashmir assembly to define the state’s permanent residents and confers special rights on them. It added the state’s identity and disputed status was at stake and the provision was sought to be done away to alter its demography. “While a Sword of Damocles is kept hanging over us on this issue, they now want to thrust and enforce panchayat and municipal elections upon us through the additional deployment of lakhs of forces…”

Hizbul Mujahideen, Jammu and Kashmir’s biggest indigenous militant group, had last week warned the people of acid attacks if they participated in the local bodies’ polls. As many as 16 sarpanches (panchayat heads) and panchs (rural bodies’ members) have been killed over the last four years. A record 75% voter turnout was recorded when panchayat polls were last held in 2011.

The elections were due in January but they were deferred after the People’s Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government told the Centre the situation was not conducive for them.

First Published: Sep 03, 2018 20:55 IST