The neutrality of authorities in the district development council elections in Jammu and Kashmir has come under sharp criticism on Thursday from leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), who alleged that the administration was helping the BJP.
The accusations stemmed from several incidents late on Wednesday and on Thursday — including the reported beating up of three journalists in south Kashmir who were covering the polls, detention of a Congress leader’s relative in Uri and a cordon-and-search operation by the Army in Shopian, allegedly to stop people from voting.
The PAGD is an alliance of several mainstream political parties, including National Conference (NC), the PDP, People’s Conference and the CPI(M), which are contesting the District Development Council (DDC) polls together in order to keep the BJP and its allies out.
NC vice president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah alleged that the keepers of the law were more than happy to become lawbreakers “if it serves their interest of cosying up to the BJP & it’s offshoots in Kashmir”.
“The entire machinery of the administration has taken upon itself the responsibility of helping the BJP in the DDC polls,” Mr Abdullah tweeted.
NC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said his party leaders were being prevented from campaigning for the DDC polls over the past few weeks in the name of security.
“Our public meeting scheduled for today (Thursday) at Behibagh in Kulgam district was to be addressed by party general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani but it was not permitted in the name of security,” Mr Dar said.
PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was prevented from leaving her house on the previous two days, alleged that armed forces were being used to rig the elections.
“Security forces have cordoned Matribugh in Shopian and are not allowing people to come out to vote under the pretext of inputs about presence of militants,” Ms Mufti tweeted.
“In a brazen display of power, armed forces are being used to rig this election and favour a particular party,” she said, tagging the Election Commission and the Indian Army.
Mehbooba Mufti also lashed out at the authorities in south Kashmir over the alleged thrashing of three journalists by police while they were covering the elections.
“Three journalists thrashed by security forces in South Kashmir today after interviewing a PAGD candidate who wasn’t allowed to cast his vote,” she said, adding, “Everything and anything that involves stating the truth is being criminalised in J&K.”
People’s Conference president Sajad Lone urged State Election Commissioner KK Sharma to investigate the case of alleged money distribution by a relative of a candidate in Uri.
According to reports, a close relative of a Congress leader was detained by police on Wednesday evening while he was on his way to a village in Uri.
“Please investigate the case of money distribution in URI. The report sent by police to the DC (deputy commissioner) almost exonerates the accused,” Mr Lone tweeted.
He said it was the moral duty KK Sharma to ascertain the facts, adding that the police should explain why the accused was questioned and being let off now.
Earlier, Sajad Lone had tweeted late on Wednesday night about the “attempts to hush up a case involving distribution of money in Parenpeela Uri DDC constituency”.
“The LG (Lieutenant Governor) has a moral duty to ascertain who all r (are) behind attempts to hush up the case,” Mr Lone, who is also a PAGD spokesperson, had said.