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LS, Assembly elections: ‘Mehbooba’s south Kashmir visits part of poll campaign, gaining lost ground’

Srinagar, Jan 4: With parliamentary and assembly elections round the corner, the political parties in J&K are set to initiate the election campaigning from the next week.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, however, it seems, has already begun campaigning for her party by visiting the families of some militants in south Kashmir in an attempt to gain the lost political ground.

Last Sunday, Mehbooba visited Pulwama’s Patipora village, where a militant’s family was allegedly tortured by government forces.

Unlike her days in power, Mehbooba highlighted the harassment the family had gone through on her official Twitter handle.

She even urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to “initiate action and prevent such incidents in future”.

“Won’t allow bloodshed in Kashmir or turning southern Kashmir into a battleground,” she said.

On Thursday, Mehbooba again visited a slain militant’s family in Shopian, whose other son is in detention.

“I am hopeful that police does not want to harass anyone but it seems from somewhere it is being directed,” she said after visiting the family in Safanagri area of the district.

“In my tenure I had directed forces not to harass brothers or sisters of militants. I hope that governor gives such directions to forces too,” she said.

Interestingly, Mehbooba’s political career begun by visiting families of the militants and victims, making south Kashmir PDP’s stronghold – allowing it to win and ally with BJP in 2014, only to break-off but not before a summer of uprising unsettled the entire Kashmir.

PDP chief spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, refused to confirm whether or not Mehbooba’s visits were a part of the election campaign.

He, however, said the party would officially start the campaigning from January 7.

“We will observe the death anniversary of Mufti Mohammad Saeed on January 7, after which the election campaigning will start. We have recently discussed how to go about it,” Mir said.

He said that campaigning would also depend on the security scenario in the region.

Sources told The Kashmir Monitor that the top PDP leadership, in a key meeting headed by Abdul Rehman Veeri last week, have decided that the ongoing human rights’ situation in south Kashmir will be the basis of the party’s campaign program for the upcoming polls.

As of other political parties, they too have framed their strategies and are set to begin the election campaigning from the next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Jammu on January 15, where he is scheduled to address a gathering.

“We have already started election campaigning in Jammu. From the next week, the election campaigning will be at a larger scale,” a BJP leader said.

“In Kashmir, our leaders will mostly restrict to door-to-door campaigning especially in south Kashmir,” he added.

National Conference, General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar said his party has begun the political activities for the polls.

“We are waiting for the Election Commission of India to confirm whether or not both the polls will be held together,” he said.

Senior Congress leader G N Monga said that they will start election campaigning from Jammu after January 15.

“We have already begun the political activities,” Monga said.

The Election Commission of India is likely to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which may be conducted in April.

The district election officers have submitted a proposal of appointment of returning and assistant returning officers to the poll body for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

A police official said that political parties have been advised to hold the rallies at the designated places only.

“The political rallies will be allowed at secured places. We have to make adequate security arrangement before any election rally is held,” the official said.

The state assembly was dissolved by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21 citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies” and the “fragile security scenario in the state”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term. Malik dissolved the assembly shortly after People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of the National Conference and the Congress.


‘Operation all out’ architect using militant families to get votes: Omar

Srinagar, Jan 3: National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah hit out at the PDP president saying she was trying to “rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation”.
“The architect of ‘Operation All-out’ & the overseer of the operations that killed hundreds of militants since 2015 is now going from one militant home to the next trying to rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
“She used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP and now she uses dead militants to try to appease the voter. Just how gullible does she think people are?” the former CM added.
BJP, the former ally of PDP, was quick to dismiss Mehbooba’s visits as a “political gimmick” and sought to remind her of the remarks she made as chief minister during a press conference at the peak of 2016 agitation following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and his two associates.
“It was Mehbooba who earlier made a statement like were they (youth who were killed in 2016 agitation) out to buy toffee or milk. Her visits now to the families of slain militants is a political gimmick,” BJP leader Ashok Koul said.
Several social media users have also dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief’s outreach campaign as political opportunism with an eye on coming elections.
A Facebook user posted the video clips of Mehbooba’s press conference in 2016 as well as the latest comments on harassment of militant families with the title “a very good example of a chameleon”.