Says, ‘PAGD Candidates Whisked Away, Barred From Canvassing’
Srinagar: Former chief minister and president of newly cobbled up People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) Dr Farooq Abdullah on Saturday objected to the treatment meted out to the amalgam candidates, saying security is being used as a pretext to impede and customize democracy in the Union territory.
In a two-page letter to J&K Election Commissioner K K Sharma, Abdullah, who is at present a Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, said providing security to a select few and literally interning the rest is a gross interference in democracy.
“I am taking the liberty of writing to you about the upcoming DDC elections. A strange and a unique feature has come to the fore. Candidates put up by the PAGD are immediately whisked away to ‘secure locations’ in the name of security and confined to those ‘secure locations’. They are not allowed to canvass, they are completely out of touch with those from whom they are supposed to seek votes,” Abdullah said in the letter.
He said the parties part of the PAGD have been in power in the past and have had the opportunity to head and run the government and are aware of the challenges posed in the realm of security in a place beset by violence.
“These challenges are not new, but have been painfully persisting for the last three decades. But, the government had structures in place which ensured security for all contestants irrespective of the ideology they espoused or the parties they represented,” he said.
The Lok Sabha MP said the current state of affairs in the realm of security is “blatantly oriented” towards providing security to a select few and confining others.
“This comes across more as an attempt to interfere in the democratic process than any real concern for the wellbeing of the contestants. Security cannot and should not be used as a tool or an excuse to interfere in democratic processes,” he said.
Asserting that the evolution of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir is distinctive compared to any other part of the country, Abdullah said this evolution is a “bloodied journey”, soaked in the blood of thousands of political workers who have laid down their lives for the sake of democracy.
“It is a desecration of those sacrifices when the very conflict that consumed their lives is used as an alibi to customize democracy. Democracy is still in a state of fragility in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Governments come and go. No government has the right to alter the institutional foundations of democracy in J-K, nourished by the sacrifices of thousands of political workers,” the letter read.
He said while security is a challenge and it is for the government of the day to counter that challenge in a manner which is fair and transparent, “providing security to a select few and literally interning the rest is a gross interference in democracy”.
The PAGD president’s letter to the State Election Commissioner comes in the backdrop of allegations of major political parties in the valley, including the NC and the PDP, of not having a level-playing field for the elections. The parties have accused the administration of locking up their candidates in accommodations at several places and not allowing them to campaign.
Mehbooba Says, BJP Doesn’t Want Others To Contest
Meanwhile PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday accused the Centre of “sabotaging” the participation of political parties other than the BJP in the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir by not allowing them to campaign freely.
Mehbooba’s allegations came as major political parties in the Valley, including the NC and the PDP, blame lack of a level-playing field for the elections, accusing the administration of locking up their candidates in accommodations at several places and not allowing them to campaign.
“GOI sabotaging participation of non BJP parties in DDC polls. PDPs Bashir Ahmed despite having adequate security has been detained at Pahalgam on the pretext of security. Today is the last day for filing nominations & have spoken to DC Anantnag for his release @manojsinha_,” the PDP chief said on Twitter.
Police have said the candidates were being provided collective security and put up in secure areas as providing security to every candidate was difficult.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the candidates are provided a double escort and the security forces guard an area where they want to visit and campaign after leaving their secure accommodations.
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