22 September 2019 03:28 PM

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JEHANGIR ALI | 18 MARCH, 2019

Kashmir Warms Up to Lok Sabha Polls

Kashmir Warms Up to Lok Sabha Polls


SRINAGAR: Mainstream political activity is heating up in Kashmir ahead of the Lok Sabha elections with the regional parties organising conventions and meetings with party workers in the restive Valley after nearly three years of fear and uncertainty.

Both Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference, the two main regional parties of Kashmir, have been organising conventions and meetings with their workers in the Valley ever since the Election Commission of India announced the schedule for General Elections 2019.

Although the schedule for the state assembly elections in J&K has not been announced so far amid fears of major law and order disturbances, there are speculations that the state polls will be held in June, ahead of the Amarnath pilgrimage.

However, it hasn’t deterred the regional parties from reaching out to the voters.

In Anantnag yesterday, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said his party was open to alliance with the Congress if the latter doesn’t field any candidate for Lok Sabha elections to three seats in Kashmir Valley. “We are waiting for their response,” Omar said.

His father and former Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah said his son is going to be the party’s chief ministerial candidate ahead of the state assembly elections.

That the National Conference will be able to organise a convention in south Kashmir was unimaginable just some months back, given the anger that prevails in Kashmir against the relentless crackdown on separatists and now Jamaat-e-Islami.

“Caging people is not the solution. For how long will you keep people behind bars? This is not going to solve the Kashmir problem. It may lead to a false peace on the ground but the problem remains there,” Aijaz Ahmad, a student of political science at University of Kashmir, said.

Authorities believe that the crackdown and the unabated use of the draconian Public Safety Act against the separatist sympathisers, which is now being reportedly extended to state employees who are seen to be ‘propagating separatist ideology’, will calm the streets of Kashmir ahead of the LS polls.

“This is the result of our efforts that incidents of stone pelting and street protests have died. It has also allowed the mainstream parties to kickstart their poll campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections,” a senior police officer said.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was in north Kashmir’s Kupwara yesterday where she told her party workers at the TRC ground: "You don't hold stones or guns in your hands. Yet you provide relief to the people like no one could in past 70 years. You are the real mujahideen."
 

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