Many In Line To Contest J&K Civic Polls
19 January 2005
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Thousands of candidates are joining the fray to fight the first civic elections in more than 25 years in Jammu and Kashmir early next month. 'This shows the people's faith in democracy has been restored. They feel a sense of security and are coming forward to strengthen the democratic institutions,' chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed asserted on Wednesday while addressing a press conference here. He said that the tremendous response was there despite the fact that the separatists have called for the boycott of these elections and militants have issued open threats to the participating candidates as well as those who would vote. The chief minister regretted that the separatists have chosen to boycott the civic elections wherein the people are to decide on apolitical matters such as availability of basic amenities of life. 'This is a manifestation of their weakness and how politically bankrupt they are,' he said, adding that if the separatists had faith in the judgment of the people and democracy they should desist from threatening the electorate at gunpoint. Suspected militants have already begun to implement their threat and, in fact, Al-Mansoorin, which was responsible for the series of surprise attacks on the camps of security forces, has told the participating candidates to withdraw or face consequences. When Mr Sayeed's attention was drawn towards the situation and asked whether the government would provide security to the candidates, he said it was not possible. 'As their number runs into thousands, it may not be possible to provide them security cover,' he said. Mr Sayeed asserted that the responsibility to defeat the disruption forces lies with the people. 'I believe they (candidates) have the people's security,' he added. Reiterating that a sense of security has developed in his 26-month-old rule, he said that even the number of violent incidents was showing a downtrend. The situation has improved considerably was apparent also by the fact that the educational and other institutions are working smoothly, the government functionaries feel obliged to accountability and there was noticeable acceleration of developmental activity across the state.