Four candidates held hostage by BJP MLC, not allowed to withdraw nominations: Families

Four candidates from Pahalgam area, who had filed nomination papers for 3rd phase of Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections, were prevented from withdrawing their nominations from Pahalgam Municipal committee by a BJP leader, their relatives alleged on Wednesday.
The relatives of four candidates staged protest in the office of Deputy Commissioner Anantnag against the alleged “kidnapping” of the candidates.
“The four candidates, all of whom are affiliated with BJP, intend to withdraw their nomination papers. Among them include two females. They, however, are being prevented from doing so,” they alleged.
They alleged that four candidates were being held hostage at the guarded residence of BJP MLC, Sofi Yousuf at Government Housing Colony Khanabal in Anantnag district.
“Today was the last date for withdrawal of candidature. We were whisked away by police from Pahalgam police station yesterday afternoon on the pretext of completing formalities for withdrawal of nomination at DC office and since then we are being held hostage at Sofi’s residence,” one of the candidates said over phone.
He said they (BJP leaders) want to keep them hostage until the deadline for withdrawal of nomination papers ends.
“We were tricked into filing nominations and now we want to withdraw our names without anyone’s coercion,” the candidate said.
Eight candidates are contesting in municipal committee Pahalgam for 13 designated wards, all of whom are affiliated with BJP.
The last date for filing nomination papers ended on Saturday as two of the municipal committees in Pulwama district which includes Tral and Awantipora while four in Anantnag district, comprising Mattan, Seer, Aishmuqam and Pahalgam are going to polls in the third phase on October 13.
Worried relatives of the candidates, who also raised slogans against BJP and local BJP leader, tried to meet Deputy Commissioner Anantnag.
“Our kin (candidates) were lured with money. They were promised some sort of an engagement for municipal jobs with Rs 20 lakhs initially if they win these elections and afterwards 20,000 per month as a salary,” they alleged.
“We met Tehsildar Pahalgam today and he refused to accept withdrawal application since the presence of candidate is must for it. Our kin (candidates) couldn’t come personally as they were kept captive inside Sofi’s residence. We went to meet DC Anantnag in this regard but we were told that he was busy in some meeting,” said an Uncle of one of the candidates.
When contacted, BJP MLC Sofi Yousuf said all the candidates were brought to his house by police.
“If a candidate has filed his form and wants to resign, he can do so later as well. This is a drama being played by PDP and NC people. Police brought all the candidates from different areas of Anantnag and many of them are staying in the hotels and some in government colony as police may have any input about threats to them from militants. It is only for the safety of these candidates that they are being kept here for some time,” Yousuf told Kashmir Post.