Kashmiri separatists start door-to-door poll boycott campaign
From describing polls "a military operation" to casting votes "a betrayal", Kashmiri separatists have joined hands to raise pitch against the parliamentary elections as first door-to-door campaign to dissuade voters was kicked off in south Kashmir.india Updated: Mar 23, 2014 15:56 IST
From describing polls "a military operation" to casting votes "a betrayal", Kashmiri separatists have joined hands to raise pitch against the parliamentary elections as first door-to-door campaign to dissuade voters was kicked off in south Kashmir.
Separatist JKLF leaders on Friday used mosques to seek promises from people to desist from voting. These separatists visited several villagers and town residents in south Kashmir's Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian districts, where polls are scheduled for April 24.
In a prescribed speech, the separatists told the prospective voters that "elections under Indian constitution are to prolong the slavery of Kashmiris, to legislate new tyrannical and oppressive laws against people".
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, who started a mass poll boycott campaign on Friday, said, "All mainstream parties are funded by India's home ministry. Forces and institutions facilitate their campaign... Boycotting these polls is not only a legitimate exercise but democratic too."
The JKLF is also raking up the hangings of JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat (1984) and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru (2013).
"The mainstream political parties gave birth to draconian laws in Kashmir, under which forces carried out catch-and-kill operation, custodial killings and disappearances. These parties gave us the hangings of Bhat
and Guru," Malik's supporters told the residents of south Kashmir.
Malik said, "Delhi projects elections as vote for India and malign and undermine Kashmir's struggle."
Ailing hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani described participation in voting as "betrayal".
"Elections are merely a military operation rather than a democratic exercise," alleged Geelani.
Geelani alleged there are non-bailable warrants against 957 of his supporters. "These people do not hold weapon and will not forcibly stop people from casting votes. However, we want people to know our view that India uses vote as a tool against the movement," said Geelani.
Sources said moderates and hardliners are under pressure from their supporters and groups across Pakistan to shun differences and form a joint strategy for poll boycott.
Reluctant all these months to call for a poll boycott, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday first time called for the boycott.
"Military was the real face of Indian democracy in Kashmir. It is best for people to completely stay away from polls," said the Mirwaiz from his pulpit at Srinagar's Jamia Masjid.
Earlier, the moderate leader would toe the poll neutral line in an attempt to delink the elections from the Kashmir issue.
In 2008 parliamentary polls, there was only 30% polling in the Kashmir Valley.
First Published: Mar 23, 2014 15:54 IST