Militants being paid $2,000 to kill J&K poll candidates
14 September 2002
The Times of India
Srinagar: Kashmir''s police chief claimed Saturday that rebels crossing from the Pakistani zone were being paid $2,000 for each candidate in provincial elections they kill. ''They have been assured of rewards for carrying out attacks (during polls), as per the radio intercepts,'' Ashok Kumar Suri told reporters in Kashmir''s summer capital Srinagar. ''The militants who carry out the killing of a candidate are paid Rs 100,000 ($2,000) by their masters,'' Suri said, without further specifying the source of the payments. Muslim militants on September 6 and 11 killed an independent and a ruling party candidate in daylight attacks in the northern Kupwara district, which heads to the polls Monday in the first of four rounds of voting. Twenty-three activists from parties taking part in the election have been killed since India announced on August 2 the dates for the polls. ''I cannot assure you 100 per cent non-incident free elections,'' Suri said. ''A large number of foreign militants are present in the countryside,'' he said, adding that among them were suicide squads. He said rebels were continuing to cross over from Pakistan. Suri said the security forces were taking all measures to ensure free and fair elections, but warned that rebels may try to attack more people in the coming days. He said incidents such as the assassination Wednesday of Law Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone ''cannot be totally eliminated.'' ''Incidents shall happen,'' he said. He said a number of people have been apprehended for ''exhorting people'' not to vote, including a member of the leading female separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Milat, or Daughters of Faith. ''All the bad characters will be taken into custody to ensure they do not indulge in any violent act,'' he said. Echoing remarks earlier by Kashmir''s seniormost bureaucrat, Chief Secretary Inderjit Singh Malhi, Suri said police would not force people to vote - as residents allege happened in the previous Assembly vote in 1996. ''I can assure you that the security forces have no such intention. We are meant to provide secure environment to the people to come out and vote,'' he said.