MUNICIPAL POLLS: Convinced of security, contestants defy relations to join fray
Srinagar, Oct 3: Hurriedly, Farooq Ahmad (name changed) enters a hotel reception room in Rajbagh and shows a bundle of papers, signed by an official from the Deputy Commissioner’s office, to the manager.
Farooq, a businessman, is contesting the Municipal polls for the Ward 69 of Soura constituency in Srinagar, scheduled to go for polls on October 16.
Breathless after covering distance of nearly five kilometers from Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) by foot, Ahmad pleads the hotel staff not to reveal his identification to any local.
To evade threats from militants, he has decided to contest election by keeping his nomination for the ward hidden from the public till election date.
“My family is not even aware of my decision to contest municipal polls. The situation in Srinagar is not good, so it is better to keep low till results are declared,” Ahmad said, as he was waiting for his turn to receive keys from the receptionist.
Ahmad said he expected none from his ward to file nomination papers in view of Hurriyat’s boycott call.
“Soura is a very sensitive place due to which I expected to win election uncontested. But now I will weigh the situation. If it turns hostile, my resignation is sure. Already seven people have filed their nomination papers from my ward,” he said.
Similarly, scores of the candidates from Srinagar have secretly filed their nomination papers for contesting elections from their respective wards.
At SMC office, where the candidates were to confirm their nomination for phase-3 on Wednesday, scores of the young boys and girls were seen completing the formalities to ensure their participation in the election.
Several young candidates, whom this reporter talked with, said their families were against their decision to contest elections.
“Many of our relatives like uncles and even friends don’t have any knowledge of our participation in the election. We have been promised security during elections, so we hope the government follows its commitment,” said a female candidate from Hazratbal, who talked on the condition on anonymity.
Another candidate, Mohammad Maqbool Mir from ward- 3 of Hajin on Wednesday had to resign publically after resented by family.
“My family came to know about it yesterday and they were strictly against contesting municipal polls. So I hereby resign,” he said.
The authorities, in view of the threats, have moved these candidates to the private hotels in Srinagar, which are guarded by the CRPF personnel.
In Rajbagh and Dalgate areas, scores of the low budget hotels and guest houses have been booked by the government to accommodate the candidates from vulnerable areas.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Law and Order and Security, Munir Ahmad Khan, said they had to make a cluster to guard candidates collectively.
“The number of candidates is very high due to which it is not possible to provide security to each and every individual. So, we made clusters of accommodation where they will be kept and that cluster will be guarded,” he said.