National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said elections in Jammu and Kashmir is the right of people but Kashmiris will not beg for it.
“If elections are not held this year, so be it! We are not beggars. I have said it time and again, Kashmiris are not beggars. Election is our right but we will not beg before them for this right. They want to restore the elections to us, good. But if they don’t want to do it, so be it,” said Omar, a former Chief Minister of J&K and a former Union minister.
Assembly Elections were last held in J&K in November-December 2014 and the People's Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government formed government in March 2015. The BJP walked out of the coalition in 2018 and the government was dissolved. Then the Article 370 of Constitution was scrapped in 2019 which gave J&K special status. Elections have therefore been due in J&K for over three years now.
Asked about the eviction of people from properties and state lands, Omar claimed it was one of the reasons why elections were not being held in J&K.
He said, “That’s why they are not holding elections. They want to 'harass' the people. Instead of applying balm to the wounds of people, they seem to have a penchant to aggravate the hurt.”
Omar said the BJP government knows that an elected government will try to heal the wounds of the people while they only allegedly rub salt and chilli into them.
Asked about the government’s decision to arm the village defence guards following the Rajouri attack, Omar said this was an admission by the government that its claims to the nation at the time of abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 had fallen flat.
He said, “On 5 August 2019, the nation was told that the gun in Kashmir is because of Article 370 and with repealing of Article 370, the gun culture will start to subside. However, as is clear, that is not the case on ground. The kind of attack we saw in Rajouri and the situation in Kashmir, the numbers of security forces personnel are being increased … all this points to the fact that the situation is not under control. The government is now compelled to take these steps.”
Seven persons were killed and 14 others injured in the terrorist attack on January 1 in Rajouri district's Dhangri village. Five people were killed when terrorists opened fire at houses and two were killed the next morning when an IED planted the previous evening exploded.
In 2019, along with the scrapping of Article 370, J&K was also reduced from a full-fledged state to that of a Union territory (UT). It was earlier said that elections in J&K will be held after delimitation. But even after delimitation, it's not certain when elections will take place.
Outlook's Naseer Ganai noted, “It was expected that the completion of the process of controversial redrawing of the electoral map of Jammu and Kashmir would pave the way for assembly elections in the Union Territory (UT), but nothing moved forward on the electoral front. The Election Commission of India (ECI) then started work on the revised voter list. It too was completed and issued in October 2022 but no date for the polls are set. In Kashmir, many are of the view that J&K will not see polls for long as the BJP government has free hand in the UT. Will the ECI prove them wrong in 2023?”
(With PTI inputs)