Farooq sets alarm bells ringing as fear prevails

Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, Jan 10: A day after Jammu and Kashmir Police Chief S P Vaid said that security agencies cannot provide security to all the Panchayat poll contestants, the National Conference President and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah expressed concern over what he called “deteriorating security scenario” in Kashmir.
Interacting with party workers at his residence here, Dr Farooq Abdullah said that the shadow of fear has been cast over the Panchayat election process. “It is alarming and unfortunate and should be taken seriously by the state government,” he said.
A Kashmir watcher while reacting to Dr Farooq’s statement said, “It indicates that NC too is unsure about the prevailing situation in the Valley. It remains to be seen how many candidates would the party file for the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state.”
He said, “Although elections are to be contested on non-partisan basis but everyone knows it very well that mostly political workers contest these elections.”
A source said, “The ground workers of the political parties in Kashmir have apprised their leaders that situation is far from normal and the threats have added to the fear. On the other hand people seem least interested as the encounters and protests are even taking place during chilly winter season.”
He said, “Reports from the ground are not that favorable. There are many areas especially in south Kashmir which are hypersensitive. Kashmir based parties are caught between the devil and the deep sea. Top leaders are indecisive whether they should risk the lives of their party workers or not. On the other hand these parties don’t want their opponents to take advantage of the situation.”
A politician said, “When polls were held for Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency in April last year these ended on a very sad note as eight youth were killed in the forces firing. The uncertain situation had led to Election Commission of India postponing the bye-polls for Anantnag parliamentary constituency indefinitely.”
He said, “Till now by-polls for Anantnag parliamentary seat have not been held due to security reasons. So how come government has announced Panchayat polls in south Kashmir. Before holding these elections the government should have conducted the by-polls for Anantnag parliamentary constituency to test the waters.”
An analyst said, “The government should reconsider its decision to hold Panchayat polls in south Kashmir. These polls can be held in Jammu, Ladakh and other areas of the Valley. The areas where threat perception is high should be left out to prevent bloodshed.”

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