NC will have smooth sailing during polls, say Moderates
9 July 2002
The Times of India
Srinagar: With the growing militant threat against joining polls, the moderates within separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir has offered smooth sailing for the ruling National Conference in the forthcoming assembly elections. Joining the United Jihad Council of Pakistan asking Hurriyat and others to launch anti-election campaign in the state, Saif-ul-Islam, Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander based in Kashmir criticized Hurriyat leaders for asking Syed Salahuddin to return and lead anti-election campaign. The HM chief said Salahuddin has spent most part of life in Kashmir and had started the struggle here. In a statement the Hizb operation chief said the people of Kashmir do not want elections but right to self-determination. He asked Hurriyat to start anti-election campaign and if it failed to discharge their responsibility then they will hand over the political leaders to others, Islam added in a statement to a local news agency on Monday. The latest Hizb move has sent shivers down the moderates among the separatist groups. Abdul Majid Dar, expelled HM chief, Shabir Ahmad Shah, president Peoples Democratic freedom party, Hashmi Qureshi, Firdous Baba, militant turned politician have all refused to take part in the upcoming elections at least of now. For National parties like congress, which is plagued by the internal dissension has lost its important members to National Conference in Jammu even. The sources said R S Sharma, a sitting Congress MLA from Kalkot constituency is to join ruling National Conference in coming days after some strain in the relations with new state congress chief Gulam Nabi Azad. Most of the senior congress leaders including Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, Rafi Sadiq, Abdul Gani Vakil and Tariq Mohi- ud-din abstained from congress rally here on Monday. The leaders blamed the state congress chief for having ignored the right persons in district and block level committees recently. The dissented group is expected to leave for Delhi soon to apprise the AICC president Sonia Gandhi about the developments. All this and growing militant to separatist leaders against participation in the upcoming elections, president ruling national conference Omar Abdullah was expressed his confidence of winning elections in the state without any tough resistance. At a public meeting in Doda in Jammu division on Monday, Omar said even if presidents rule is imposed in the state prior to the polls as demanded by our adversaries, NC will win hands down as it has done in the past, he added.