Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Monday appealed political parties to participate in the forthcoming panchayat and urban local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir, in the wake of the NC and the PDP announcing a boycott of the elections.
Singh’s appeal came after the two major regional parties — the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party — announced that they would not take part in the elections as the Centre has not cleared its stand on Article 35A of the Constitution.
“I would like to appeal that all the political parties should participate in the political process. This will provide an opportunity to them to interact with the people,” Singh said at a press conference here.
Article 35A was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order and accords special rights and privileges to the Jammu and Kashmir citizens.
The Article, which bars outsiders from purchasing land and property in the State and bars them from government jobs and scholarships, has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the matter is still under consideration.
To a question, the home minister said India has made all efforts to improve its relations with Pakistan and cited the impromptu visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to that country to buttress his point.
“But we cannot change the behaviour of Pakistan. They will have to understand how to behave with a neighbour,” he said.
About Hizbul Mujahideen reportedly extending roots to northeast, the home minister said he did not want to get into the details of it but assured that the security forces would wipe out the extremists.
“Whether (its) naxalism or terrorism in northeast and Kashmir, our army and other forces are facing them with determination and giving them befitting response,” he said.
“You have seen that the terrorism in northeast has almost ended, naxalism is heading towards its end and all our forces – army, paramilitary forces and Jammu and Kashmir police – are fighting militancy with coordination and are fulfilling their responsibilities,” he said.
Earlier, Singh inaugurated two smart fence pilot projects along the Indo-Pak border near here.
“Border security is our top most priority. I am happy to inaugurate two pilot projects under CIBMS (Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System) today.
“We have already identified vulnerable areas and gaps on all borders,” he said.
Meanwhile, The two major political parties National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Monday rejected Union Home Minister’s appeal to participate in municipal and panchayat polls saying they had sought clarification from Government of India (GoI) on Article 35A and New Delhi has turned the deaf ear to their demands.
National Conference (NC) General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said they had demanded a clear cut clarification from GoI on Article 35-A, which is their constitutional right. “However, New Delhi turned a deaf ear to our demand and reservations about the security scenario in the State”.
He said elections are being held when Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) and “Operation All Out” is continuing unabated.
“Question arises that amid killings how can elections be held in such a vulnerable security scenario amid brewing resentment among people on Central Governments objectionable stand over Article 35-A,” Sagar said.
Responding to Union Home Ministers appeal for participation in Panchayat and Municipal elections, PDP chief Spokesman PDP Rafi Ahmad Mir said they had sought a clarification from GoI on Article 35-A and expressed their reservation on conduct of elections in the present hostile security environment.
“The government should have listened patiently to our demands and we had also demanded an all party meet to evolve a consensus over the issues and the suitability of time and atmosphere for elections. They have not considered our suggestions and we have also taken a decision keeping in view the public outrage against the petitions filed in the Supreme Court against Article 35-A and the present hostile security scenario in the state,” he said.