March 2017 News

Poll Boycott Calls Return To Haunt Parties In Kashmir

16 March 2017

Srinagar: Spectre of poll boycott has returned to haunt the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the by-elections to two parliamentary constituencies. Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an amalgam of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded the last year's unrest, has decided to launch boycott campaign to persuade the people to stay away from elections next month. 'Resistance leadership on Thursday urged people to boycott upcoming elections because it provides India an opportunity to mislead world community. Amid ten lakh force personnel, the election drama has lost relevance and credibility,' said the spokesman of JRL quoting the separatist trio. Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies are going to polls on April 9 and 12 respectively. Spanning over four districts and comprising 16 Assembly constituencies, Anantnag parliamentary seat of sensitive south Kashmir fell vacant after Mehbooba Mufti became the chief minister. Srinagar parliamentary seat, which fell vacant after former PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra quit in protest against the civilian killings of summer unrest of 2016, comprise of 15 assembly constituencies spanning over three districts of central Kashmir. Separatists' bravado notwithstanding, past records have shown that the election boycott calls have boomeranged and exploded on their face in Kashmir. Last year, around 34 per cent people cast their vote in the by-elections to Anantnag assembly seat despite the boycott calls. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti won the seat convincingly then. Despite boycott calls and militant threats, the turnout in the five-phase assembly polls in November-December 2014 broke the 27-year-old record with 65.9 per cent people exercising their franchise. Meanwhile, journalists on Thursday staged a sit-in after police assaulted the photo journalists who were covering the joint news conference of the separatist leaders at Hyderpora here.