16 October 2019 03:48 AM



Kashmir Unrest: CM's Brother Appeals to EC to Postpone Anantnag ByPoll

SRINAGAR: Tassaduq Mufti, brother of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Monday appealed the Election Commission of India to postpone the April 13 by-poll to Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in the wake of the prevailing unrest in the Valley.

Tassaduq, who is the joint candidate of PDP-BJP alliance, made the appeal during a press conference at the Mufti family's Fairview residence in Srinagar's Gupkar locality. He said the grim situation in the Valley calls for postponing the elections scheduled on Wednesday.

"Keeping in view the (grim) situation, I appeal the Election Commission of India to postpone the election till the situation improves," he told reporters in Srinagar, a day after eight civilians were shot dead by government forces as anti-election and pro-freedom protests swept the restive Valley.

Asked whether he will withdraw his candidature if the Election Commission refuses to postpone the Anantnag by-poll, Tassaduq said if his withdrawal ensures postponement, he will not hesitate to opt out of the race for Lok Sabha.

"The question then that should be asked is whether my withdrawal will help in postponement of the election. If it does, I will withdraw. I am not here to announce my pull-out. I am here to make an appeal," he said, urging the Commission to postpone the election.

"How can it be a victory for somebody who curtail someone else's freedom. People should have a right to take a decision on whether they want to vote or don't want to vote. They shouldn't be forced, be it by the government or the separatists."

To a question whether the grim situation in the Valley is a result of PDP's alliance with the BJP, Tassaduq said it was after the alliance was forged that Mehbooba Mufti won by a significant margin in Anantnag assembly by-poll. "It is also an indication," he said.

Asked whether the Peoples Democratic Party has approached the Election Commission formally with a request to postpone the election, he said the government has already filed a report with the Commission about the situation in the Valley.

"The government had made an assessment earlier, much before the elections were announced and given that assessment report to the Election Commission of India. The government had already told them that the situation was not conducive. Today's press conference is much more than our party approaching the Commission afresh," he said.

Sources in the government said Chief Secretary BR Sharma is in Srinagar and he might meet the Chief Electoral Officer, Shantamanu, to apprise him about the situation. Eight civilian protesters, including a teenager, were shot dead during clashes with police and paramilitary forces on Sunday as a wave of anti-India and pro-freedom protests swept the central Kashmir region.

The Hurriyat has appealed people to boycott the election in protest against the spate of civilian killings which began with the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani last year in July. The campaigning for the by-polls also remained a low-key affair amid fears of violence.

For the first time in many years, there were no election rallies in any part of the Valley due to a sharp rise in insurgency-related violence, forcing the political parties to meet their workers behind the guarded houses or public properties amid fears of attacks by militants.