National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday alleged that non-Bharatiya Janata Party candidates contesting the District Development Council elections in the Union Territory were being locked up by the administration and not allowed to campaign freely.
“The J&K administration is going out of its way to help the BJP and it’s recently created king’s party by locking up candidates opposed to the BJP, using security as an excuse,” Abdullah said in response to a tweet by Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti, which also spoke about the restrictions on election candidates. “If the security situation isn’t conducive to campaigning what was the need to announce elections?”
Mufti said that BJP candidates were being allowed to move freely. “BJP and its proxies are given full bandobast [arrangements] to move around,” she tweeted. “Is this the democracy that GOI [Government of India] claimed its promoting in yesterday’s phone convo [conversation] with US Pres [President] elect?”
Abdullah also took a swipe at Home Minister Amit Shah over his recent comments against political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. “What sort of elections are being held in J&K where candidates are being stopped from campaigning?” he asked. “Is this the safe, terror free J&K the Home Minister was tweeting about yesterday [Tuesday]?”
Two National Conference candidates from Budgam district – Mohammad Ashraf Lone and Rayees Mattoo – meanwhile, told The Indian Express that they were being kept at hotels in Srinagar against their will. Several other candidates also spoke to the newspaper about being confined to “cluster accommodations”.
Unidentified officials from the administration, however, claimed that only candidates seeking protection were being kept in secure spaces. The Centre, meanwhile, issued orders to move 25,000 more security personnel to Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the elections, according to The Indian Express.
Jammu and Kashmir will hold the first-ever District Development Council elections in eight phases from November 28. The elections to fill up vacant seats of sarpanchs and panchs and Urban Local Bodies will also be held simultaneously.
Voting will begin from November 28 and conclude on December 19, and the counting of votes will be held on December 22. The results of panchayat bye-elections will be declared on the polling day. The polling hours will be from 7 am to 2 pm.