Hitting out at the J&K administration, People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) chief Dr. Farooq Abdullah on Saturday, alleged that the coalition's poll candidates are being whisked away to 'secure locations' and confined to them, amid security concern. Calling this an attempt to interfere in the democratic process, Abdulah said that while security is a challenge, the government must counter it 'transparently'. His comments come days after Army neutralised four JeM terrorists and seized of large cache of weapons and explosives in J&K's Nagrota.
Jammu & Kashmir: Peoples Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) writes to Election Commissioner KK Sharma, alleging that PAGD candidates in DDC polls are being confined in name of security. "Security should not be used as an excuse to interfere in democratic process," it says. pic.twitter.com/zNx8Hx7uJJ— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2020
Earlier in the day, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti accused the Centre of "sabotaging" the participation of political parties other than the BJP in the polls by not allowing them to campaign freely. On Saturday, she said that PDP's Bashir Ahmed was detained in name of security. Peoples Conference president Sajad Lone echoed Mufti's opinion and said that security is being used as a pretext to impede electioneering. In an indirect attack on J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, Lone said that those who are visitors in the state should not sow a poison "whose venom will be spread over decades."
The J&K administration announced J&K's first-ever District Development Council polls in eight phases from November 28 to December 19, with the counting of votes scheduled for December 22. Requisite amendments in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, and J&K Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, have allowed members of DDC to be directly elected by voters in the Union Territory. The DDC which will have a term of 5 years replaces the District Planning and Development Boards which were headed by a Cabinet Minister of the erstwhile state of J&K. Around 250 companies or 25,000 central paramilitary personnel are being sent by the Centre for providing security cover to polls.
The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of seven political parties in Jammu and Kashmir seeking restoration of the erstwhile state's special status, announced the seat-sharing arrangement for the first four phases of the DDC elections. Congress, which is not 'officially' part of the PAGD's coalition for polls, had fielded candidates as part of the seat-sharing pact in the second phase. The party, which has faced severe backlash from BJP and PAGD allies for flip-flopping over the Gupkar issue, has not yet released its candidates for the fourth phase.