The Congress on Wednesday announced that it will boycott the Block Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir because of the “indifferent attitude” of the state administration, PTI reported.

India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status on August 5, imposed a security lockdown, and detained Kashmiri politicians. The government also severed communication networks. Though the government claims the situation in the state is almost back to normal, the restrictions continue in most parts of the state.

“Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls,” party chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said. “But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the Valley.”

Mir alleged that the elections were scheduled to benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party, ANI reported. He said the leaders should be released so that they can visit their respective constituencies. “They have kept leaders and cadres under detention and did not allow the political atmosphere and political activity to take place and the Congress was deliberately targeted in this exercise,” the leader alleged.

The local council elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held on October 24, and votes will be counted the same day. National Conference leaders had also said that they would not be able to participate in the polls if the detentions continued. Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah are among several political leaders who were put under detention. Farooq Abdullah has been charged under the “public order” section of the Public Safety Act, which allows authorities to detain a person for six months without trial.

According to some estimates, almost 400 politicians in the state were detained following the Centre’s crackdown. Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal were also taken into custody or put under house arrest. Mufti’s party deferred a meeting with its detained party chief on Sunday, but no reason was cited for it.

An advisor to the governor had on October 3 said that the political leaders detained in Kashmir will be released in a phased manner. A day earlier, the state administration had ended the house arrest of all politicians in Jammu.

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