Hizb threatens to pour acid in eyes of those who contest panchayat elections

The rural body polls, which could not be held in 2016 following violence after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, are scheduled to take place from February 15.

Kashmir’s indigenous militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen has purportedly threatened to “pour acid” into the eyes of those who would participate in the upcoming panchayat elections in the state.

The threat was conveyed in a clip circulated on social media.

The outfit, for the first time, also publically acknowledged killing some of those who participated in the past elections, but said this time it would not resort to killing.

“You saw in 2016 how many youth lost their eye sights (to pellets). That is why we have planned …whosoever fights elections, he will be dragged out of his home and concentrated acid –sulphuric or hydrochloric acid – will be poured into his eyes so that he loses his eyesight and becomes a burden for his families for life,” a person, believed to the Hizb’s operational commander Riyaz Naikoo, was heard saying in the clip.

The HindustanTimes could not independently verify the authenticity of the video. But in the past also similar videos, conveying the militant group’s stance on various issues, surfaced in the social media.

The rural body polls, which could not be held in 2016 following violence after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, are scheduled to take place from February 15.

South Kashmir’s deputy inspector general of police SP Pani refused to comment on the threat saying he has heard about the clip but not yet seen it.

Naikoo is a resident of south Kashmir’s Awantipora.

In the conversation, apparently between Naikoo and someone called Sameer Tiger, the former also talked about the ‘futility’ of killing those participating in the polls.

“For the past 28 years we have been threatening those (participating in elections) but nothing happened. And you saw in last elections how many were killed: some were killed by (Indian) agencies and some by us but what was the result. They were benefitted (alluding to families of the deceased getting compensation from the government),” the person, believed to be Naikoo, was heard saying.

Last time, the Panchayat elections were held in 2011 with a record turnout of 80%.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) worker and former sarpanch Mohammad Ramzan Sheikh was killed by militants on the night of October 16 last year in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Panches and sarpanches are often associated with political parties likes the PDP, NC and the Congress.

In restive Kashmir such killings of panches and sarpanches are often attributed to ‘unknown gunmen’.

The 30-year-old post graduate militant commander claims that the families of the panch and sarpanches push them into elections knowing “they have lost their utilities at their homes”.

“They (the family) know when they will be killed, they will get Rs 5 lakh and an SRO case (for getting a job),” he purportedly said.

The militant commander also threatened the local community leaders who prompt people to fight elections, saying they will also face the same fate.

Besides the militant’s threats, the separatist leadership has also called for a boycott of the upcoming elections.

Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have said in a statement that any sort of election under “Indian occupational system– be it for so-called assembly, parliament, municipal committee or panchayat– is meant only to harm the national interests of Kashmiris. We cannot vote and hence strengthen the hands of the tyrants”.

Security agencies fear there will be attempts to disrupt the coming polls. The by-election for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is yet to be held after it was cancelled following widespread violence in April last year during the Srinagar parliamentary by-election, which recorded only 7% turnout. Nine persons died in the violence.