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NC, PDP seek EC’s intervention to stop ‘harassment, illegal arrests’ of party workers

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Srinagar: A day ahead of voting for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, the NC and the PDP sought the Election Commission’s intervention on Sunday to stop the alleged harassment and illegal arrest of the workers of the two parties.

PDP candidate from Srinagar Waheed Para accused a senior IPS officer of trying to engineer a low voter turnout in areas where the party has a strong support base.

In a letter to the EC, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said, “I am writing to you with a profound sense of urgency and grave concern regarding the troubling developments in the run-up to the elections in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency scheduled for May 13.

“It has come to my attention that the state administration, under the control of the Union government, is shamelessly engaged in activities aimed at intimidating voters and supporters of the People’s Democratic Party.”

Refering to the 1987 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls, the former chief minister said it is distressing to witness history repeating itself, reminiscent of the “rigged” election of 1987 that caused immense suffering and political disillusionment in the region.

Mufti said she is “deeply troubled” by reports that the security agencies are conducting raids and harassing PDP workers in Pulwama and Shopian districts.

“Numerous party members, sympathisers and activists have been arbitrarily detained without justification, apparently as punishment for their efforts to organise public rallies and encourage voter turnout. In a democratic society, it is imperative that both election authorities and state officials promote political participation and ensure a fair electoral process,” she said in her letter to the poll panel.

“Regrettably, the current situation in these areas is far from conducive to such principles,” she added.

In a similar letter to the EC, NC candidate Aga Ruhullah Mehdi listed out the names of the party workers who have been arrested since Saturday.

“I am writing to express my grave concern regarding the recent unlawful detention of several Jammu and Kashmir National Conference workers by the local police during the ongoing election period. This blatant infringement upon their fundamental rights of free movement and assembly not only violates the principles of democracy but also undermines the integrity of the electoral process,” he said.

Mehdi said such “arbitrary detentions” violate the constitutional guarantee of participating in democracy and undermine the very essence of free-and-fair elections.

“It is imperative that all political parties, including the opposition, are afforded equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process, without the fear of harassment or intimidation.

“Therefore, I urge the Election Commission to take immediate and decisive action to address this grave matter. The impartiality and integrity of our democratic process must be safeguarded at all costs, and any actions that undermine these principles must be swiftly rectified,” he added.

Mufti pointed out that as the custodian of democracy, the EC plays a crucial role in upholding the integrity of the electoral process and ensuring a level-playing field for all the contesting parties.

“However, recent actions, such as the delay in (holding polls in) the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, have raised serious concerns about the commission’s impartiality and emboldened those who seek to manipulate the electoral outcome through coercion and intimidation,” the PDP leader’s letter read.

“The situation has escalated to a point where the security establishment is instilling a climate of fear in areas slated for elections on May 13. This appears to be a direct result of public threats made by the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, which has openly called for the arrest of PDP supporters,” it added.

Mufti said the imposition of section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting the assembly of people in areas witnessing high political activities, is “shocking and deeply concerning”.

“This arbitrary restriction stifles democratic participation and violates fundamental rights, solely based on anticipated political preferences. Citizens are being deprived of their right to express their democratic voice, simply because they are expected to support the PDP,” she said.

“I must emphasise that similar concerns have been raised regarding the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency. If the Election Commission is unwilling to address these issues and uphold the integrity of the electoral process, it would be tantamount to condoning electoral malpractice and betraying the very essence of democracy,” Mufti said.

She made an “urgent appeal” to the EC to take immediate action to thwart any attempt at rigging the polls.

Meanwhile, her party’s Srinagar candidate took to social media to claim that a senior IPS officer is trying to engineer a low voter turnout.

In a post on X, Para said, “In the past, Kashmir has experienced boycotts at the behest of separatists. Today, we’re witnessing a similar scenario, with an IPS officer of ADGP rank, Mr Vijay Kumar, allegedly directing officials to minimise voter turnout by detaining, harassing our workers. Such actions serve the interests of anti-national elements, not India.”

“@PMOIndia @HMOIndia We’re reaching out to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to urgently address and relocate the official from his sensitive position,” he added.


Press Trust of India

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