Hiding details evokes criticism in J&K

first_imgThe authorities have decided not to publicise the details of candidates contesting in elections to urban local bodies in volatile pockets in the Kashmir valley “due to security reasons,” evoking sharp reactions from political parties.“Lack of transparency will only bring disrepute to the institution of democracy. It seems former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy is being reversed. Mr. Vaypayee, as prime minister, ensured fair elections in J&K and allowed peoples’ representatives to come up. This saw a new hope emerging among people, who started looking up to elections as a credible exercise. In the process, mainstream political parties, too, gained an important space despite Kashmir’s complex situation,” senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Nayeem Akhtar told The Hindu. He described the situation in J&K as “worse than the 1990s.” “It’s getting worse than 1990s, with non-locals being fielded as candidates in many wards. They may have visited the area for the first time on the day of the nominations. The way the elections are held goes against tenets of democracy,” said Mr. Akhtar.All major regional parties, including the PDP and the National Conference, have decided to boycott polls, leaving the Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference (J&KPC), the Congress and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) as major players in the fray. “The credibility of the poll process has been badly affected. No candidate has filed a nomination in 177 wards. In 215 wards, candidates have been declared [elected] unopposed. It speaks volumes about the power-thirsty BJP imposing [on the] elections. What will be the credibility of these polls, when even finding a candidate to contest has become difficult?” asked Congress vice president and MLC G.N. Monga .Details concealed Contrary to J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra’s directive to returning officers “to paste details of contesting candidates on notice boards”, scores of wards in south and north Kashmir have decided against it. “Candidates have pleaded with us that their lives will be in danger in case their details are made public. In many wards, we decided against publicising it,” a south Kashmir-based official told The Hindu. In the wake of militant threats, several independent candidates on Thursday held a press conference in Srinagar. They claimed they were “not getting any response from the government over security. The property of two candidates have been attacked by unknown men in the past 24 hours in the Valley with petrol bombs.”However, Additional Director General Police-Law and Order (ADGP) Muneer Ahmad Khan said many contestants have been put up in hired hotels, guarded by heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces. About 3,000 candidates are in the fray across J&K for elections to 1,145 wards across 79 municipal bodies, starting October 8.last_img read more