A PDP leader, wishing anonymity, told National Herald that the senior party leaders like Mehbooba Mufti, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Sartaj Madni and Aijaz Ahmad Mir were not allowed to take part in the campaigning.
Merely two days before the polling, PDP’s youth leader Waheed Parra was arrested by NIA for his alleged links with Irfan Shafi Mir, who was arrested along with Hizbul Mujahidin Naveed Babu and police officer Davindar Singh on January 11 this year.
Mehbooba Mufti billed the arrest of Parra as intimidating and almost amounting to blackmailing the PDP and other mainline leaders.
Awami National Conference candidate from Pulwama, Nzair Ahmad Pandit said that there could be many factors contributing to low voter turnout, but the less or no campaigning by PAGD candidates was one of the dominating factors.
The people in central Kashmir’s Budgam district which saw a highest voter turnout of 56.96 per cent said that they voted to prevent BJP from expanding its footprints in the Valley.
“Development is an issue, but we flocked the polling booths to keep the BJP at bay”, said Javed Ahmad, a voter.
Junaid Dar, a local free lance journalist from the area says that one could easily gauge how desperate BJP is to make inroads in the Valley by the fact that it sent its national leaders to campaign for such a small election.
“Voters too understand it”, he added.
The neighbouring Shopian district saw a voter turnout of 42.58 per cent for Keller-I and Kellar-II segment.
Many of the voters, who had made a beeline to polling stations since early morning said that they cast their belt to merely protect their identity and jobs.
Similarly, the recent eviction of Gujjar and Bakerwal community from the forests in Pahalgam area spurred them to vote in the elections.
A Kashmir watcher of long standing told National Herald that a general feeling among the voters was that “the boycotting of elections means empowering BJP”.
He held that people had understood that strengthening BJP would mean the weakening of democracy.