Militant groups warn Hurriyat against participation in polls
20 March 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Militant outfits in Kashmir today warned Hurriyat Conference leadership of ''serious consequences'' if they particiapte in elections and asked State Government employees to stay away from the poll process. ''If any Hurriyat leader including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Ahmad Shah are found involved in any (election) activity, it would attract serious consequences,'' Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF), said in a statement. Asking the Hurriyat leaders to instead concentrate in the ''freedom struggle'' of Kashmir, desist from ''anti-movement activities'' (holding talks with Government) and ''cancel'' its frequent visits to Delhi, JKIF, headed by Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant Bilal Ahmad Beig, said participation in polls would fetch ''nothing but betrayal from the Government''. Meanwhile, Hizbul Mujahideen has asked the State Government employees not to take part in the ensuing Assembly elections. In a statement released through a local news agency from Muzaffarabad, its supremo Syed Salahuddin claimed people of Kashmir had rejected the elections in the past and they would never be a party to it in future too. Most militant outfits have rejected Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s call to separatist outfits to participate in the Assembly election in the State scheduled later this year. Welcoming Prime Minister’s offer, People Democratic Farty vice-president Mehbooba Mufti said the Centre should give assurance to separatists that meaningful talks would be held immediately after the polls to solve the Kashmir issue permanently. However, Mufti claimed that elections in the State have always been ''rigged'' and that democracy has never been allowed to cross the Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir with rest of the country.