The district election officer in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar has sought an explanation from Peoples Democratic Party candidate Waheed ur Rehman Para for his remarks urging voters in the Union territory to consider the ongoing Lok Sabha elections a “referendum” to send New Delhi a message, PTI reported on Thursday.

Para is the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate from the Srinagar constituency. He is the chief of the party’s youth wing.

The poll officer issued the notice to Para on Wednesday and asked him to respond within two days. He was also asked to refrain from making statements that “have the potential of aggravating the differences among communities and can cause discontentment in the society”.

Recently, Para allegedly asked the youth in Kashmir to look at the elections as a “referendum” to send New Delhi a message about their “dissatisfaction” with the Centre’s decisions after August 2019, PTI reported.

The Centre had abrogated Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5, 2019.

The Peoples Democratic Party candidate had also allegedly said that there was a need to send a message to New Delhi that it “should not accept the silence of Kashmir as its acceptance”.

“Do not think they [people of Kashmir] are happy with you [on decisions post August 2019],” he claimed. “They are not. There are many reasons behind it. The future of the people, especially youngsters, is uncertain.”

The notice issued on Wednesday read: “You are asked to refrain from issuing such statement forthwith and also to make clear the exact context and message you wanted to convey to the people.”

The code is a set of rules issued by the Election Commission that all political parties, candidates and governments are mandated to follow in the run-up to an election.

The poll officer said: “Non-compliance with the notice would invite action under the law”.

In response to the notice, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate told PTI that he owed allegiance to the Constitution. Para said that he had used the term “referendum” to urge the public to come out and vote so that democracy can flourish.