SRINAGAR: A brisk 70 per cent polling in the first phase of the elections in Jammu and Kashmir led Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to blame the local media for the high turnout.

Geelani who had urged Kashmiris to boycott the elections told reporters that while most of the Hurriyat leadership had been thrown into jail to thwart their proposed election campaign, the local media also forgot the movement for ‘azadi’ and preferred money over sacrifice.

“I will not name any media organization, but when the Hurriyat leadership has been caged the media was our only hope. But our statements couldn’t reach to the people as our voices hardly find place in the press,”he said.

Geelani said the manner in which the local newspapers were giving wide coverage and publishing advertisements of the BJP and other mainstream political parties was disheartening. “The media plays a large role in creating a perception among the people. The media ran a healthy campaign for pro-election parties for monetary gains. I am not against this, but at the same time they should have carried our statements on the front pages, which we didn’t see,” he said.

Geelani also said that the high voter turnout was because of the suppression and brutality people are facing at the hands of forces. “There are cases pending against the youth and these youth have been asked to vote only then their cases would be solved,” he said.

The octogenarian leader dared the government to allow the separatists the space to campaign for a a poll boycott in a democratic manner, and then see who wins the match.

“This is a like a cricket match where one side has been allowed to score and the other side has been stopped from playing,” he said.

The high voter turn has not only surprised the separatists but has also been a wide debate on the social networking site,with advocates, journalists, academicians debating the issue threadbare.

“Whether it is 71 % or zero turn out, we should not get disappointed, We should work together to make the state of Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh a better place to live in. I just want forest, wildlife, wetland and allied sectors to be given a priority by any government which comes in power, so let us introspect,” posts Nadeem Qadri, an advocate on his Facebook wall.

Similarly, Peerzada Ashiq, a journalist writes, “Conscious decision of voters to boycott parliament and recognise J - K assembly is not all that defeatist but start of a new war on a different plane!.”