Weeks after the announcement of the upcoming Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir came out, the Valley seems to be simmering with tense situation.
Despite the previous ruling coalition partner People’s Democratic Party (PDP) not participating in the election, Mehbooba Mufti, the party chief, had asked people to choose “ballots over bullets” in December 2017.
However, last April, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo issued a threat to pour acid and gouge out eyes of those who will participate in the electoral process in any manner.
The election schedule went out on 16 September and minutes after it getting viral, threat hovered upon the people possibly contesting the elections. A lot of stir was created among the political parties too whether or not to contest election in the already tensed situation of Kashmir.
The Communist Party of India State Secretary Ghulam Nabi Malik condemned the election process and stepped back from it after National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) decided to boycott the upcoming polls.
The three parties feel that the predicament of the Valley after the hearing on Article 35A shows that the situation is not conducive to conduct the polls. The parties also think that the Centre is just staging a propaganda behind the rigged election.
However, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and Congress decided to contest the elections.
Recently, the Centre has also decided to provide rupees 10 lac as the insurance cover to each candidate who is participating in the election. The government is hopeful that this move will ensure security and allow more people to participate in the upcoming elections.
However, according to a report by India Today, the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC) Chairman, Shafiq Mir, said, “We never wanted an insurance cover for us. We are not contesting elections for this. We only demanded that elections should be held in a secure atmosphere, which is the job of the government and it should ensure this.”
Till now there were over ten attempts by the militants to disrupt the approaching Panchayat elections in the Valley. Within 24 hours of announcement, there were four attacks reported in different areas of Shopian and Pulwama in South Kashmir. Three of them were the attempts to torch the Panchayat’s house and one was aimed at a paramilitary trooper.
Unidentified men attempted to raze a house of a Panchayat in Nazneenpora village of Shopian district. In the neighboring Pulwama district, another attempt to set ablaze the under-construction Panchayat house in Nagbal village of Tral.
Another attempt was taken by unknown men in Drabgam area of Pulwama district. Massive clashes happened late in the night when militants threw grenade and opened fire incessantly towards the joint camp of Special Operations Group (SOG) in Newa area of Pulwama.
All three cases of attempt to torch the Panchayat houses were reported to the Police and the investigation is underway on these three attempts. And, as a retaliatory measure to the attack on the trooper, the government launched the search operation.
On 17 September, two Panchayat houses at Nazneenpora and Ramnagri in South Kashmir’s Shopian district were set on fire by unidentified men. The house also went through partial damage after the fire was extinguished.
On 18 September, militants also hurled a grenade that was followed with incessant firing at 183 BN CRPF Camp, located near Railway station Kakapora.
Three incidents were reported on 19 September. The first incident happened when Hizbul Mujahideen militants raided SPOs father and Ex- Sarpanch in Pinglish Tral. The second happened at Kanjiullar, Shopian where a Panchayat house was set ablaze. Third incident happened late in the night where one more Panchayat house was set on fire at Kultrech area of Budgam by unknown persons. The latter incident was the first of its kind as never such misfortune was seen in Central Kashmir area.
Amidst all the ruckus going around in Kashmir, the Valley prepares to elect 4,130 Sarpanch and 29,719 panchs. However, its two main parties, NC and PDP are not going to participate.