Srinagar, Jan 9: Forthcoming Panchayat polls slated for February 15, 2018, pose a big challenge for the security agencies as the contestants may find it difficult to move around in volatile areas for campaigning in wake of the poll boycott call given by the separatists and threats being issued by the militant outfits.
Sources told Precious Kashmir that security agencies are ascertaining the veracity of the audio clip of the Hizbul-Mujaheedin commander Riyaz Naikoo, which has gone viral on social networking sites. In the conversation, a commander of the outfit tells his cadre to pour acid into the eyes of those who contest the upcoming panchayat elections in Kashmir.
In the purported clip, Hizb commander Riyaz Naikoo tells another militant of the outfit, Sameer Tiger, that they should not threaten or kill anyone contesting the polls but pour “strong acid—sulphuric acid or hydrochloric acid” into the their eyes.
Official sources said that militants threatening contestants is a “serious issue” and it cannot be pushed under the carpet. “In the past we have seen militants barging into the house of political workers and threatening them. We have to ensure that they are not allowed to disrupt the forthcoming Panchayat polls in the state, especially in the Valley,” they added.
Insiders within the mainstream political parties revealed that these parties are asking their cadre to gear up for the forthcoming polls as they could prove crucial while deciding the fate of candidates in 2019 parliamentary elections and in assembly polls in 2020. “Although polls are being contested on the non-partisan basis but mostly political workers would contest these elections. But these workers are not protected persons and don’t enjoy any security,” they added.
A politician said, “The government needs to devise a proper strategy to ensure that people who contest the Panchayat polls don’t feel threatened.”
He said, “Being a mainstream politician in Kashmir is a big challenge. During the past 30-years mainstream politicians irrespective about their affiliation with any party have been at the receiving end. It’s not for the first time that candidates are being threatened. We have been receiving these threats for years together.”
A police official said, “Issuing threats and warnings have been the order of the day in Kashmir specially. Threats increase whenever any election approaches. We have been fighting these threats for so many years now. People who contest the elections know it very well that threat is always there. Let the process begin first. Then we will see what needs to be done to keep the contestants safe.”