Militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen has told its members to pour acid into the eyes of the people who participate in the upcoming panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday.

The panchayat elections, which were due in 2016, will be held from February 15. They were postponed because of the unrest that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. The previous panchayat elections in the state were held in 2011.

An audio clip, purportedly a leaked conversation between Hizbul’s Operational Commander Riyaz Naikoo and militant leader Sameer Tiger, was circulated on social media.

“You saw in 2016 how many youth lost their eyesight,” the person believed to be Naikoo was heard saying. “That is why we have planned...whosoever fights elections, he will be dragged out of his home and concentrated acid – sulphuric or hydrochloric – will be poured into his eyes so that he loses his eyesight and becomes a burden for his families for life.”

South Kashmir Deputy Inspector General of Police SP Pani said he cannot comment till he hears the clip.

“For the past 28 years, we have been threatening those [participating in elections], but nothing has happened,” Naikoo added. “You saw in the last elections how many were killed – some by agencies and some by us, but what was the result?”

Those who were killed only benefited in the end, as their families received government compensation and jobs, Naikoo was heard saying.

“These candidates and their families should repent it for life,” he added, according to DNA. “The death of a candidate is a blessing in disguise for their kin. But a man who is blinded is always a burden on the family.”

Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have also called for the elections to be boycotted. They said any sort of polls under the “Indian occupational system” is only meant to “harm the interests of Kashmiris”.

“If it isn’t pellets it’s acid,” former state chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter. “One way or the other people are threatened with being blinded.”