Political Parties Cry Foul: Alleged Arbitrary Arrests by Police Spark Outcry

Political Parties Cry Foul: Alleged Arbitrary Arrests by Police Spark Outcry

All the major political candidates and parties contesting in Srinagar constituency alleged that police have been detaining their workers and calling them to police stations since Saturday

A day ahead of the polls in Srinagar parliamentary constituency, Kashmir’s political scene was rocked by allegations of “arbitrary arrests of workers of political parties” like National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Apni Party. J&K’s chief electoral officer (CEO) said that they have taken cognisance of the matter.

All the major political candidates and parties contesting in Srinagar constituency alleged that police have been detaining their workers and calling them to police stations since Saturday.

NC candidate Mehndi targets election commission

NC candidate Ruhullah Mehdi said that many of his party’s workers have been picked up by police. Mehdi demanded release of his party workers and also those of his rival party PDP. “I also want immediate release of our workers and those of PDP if the reports of their arrests are also correct,” he said.

Mehdi, addressing a press conference, targeted Election Commission for the alleged intimidation of political workers by police. “If ECI is allowing this, this begs the question, are ECI and establishment serious towards democracy and its institutions here? What sort of intimidation is this to use police force to tilt the logistical ground,” he said. “We were thinking that polling percentage will increase this time but they are striking on that and also weakening the faith of people on such institutions,” he said.

PDP president Mufti allege officials of calling for boycott

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti wrote a letter to the ECI appealing to “prevent repetition of 1987 election rigging and state sponsored intimidation in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency”. “I am deeply troubled by reports of security agencies conducting raids and harassing PDP workers in Pulwama and Shopian districts. Numerous party members… and activists have been arbitrarily detained without justification, apparently as punishment for their efforts to organise public rallies and encourage voter turnout,” she wrote.

Mufti, during an interaction with some prominent people, alleged that some officials were calling their political workers to boycott. “In this administration, there are some people who are calling our workers and saying ‘go for boycott, why would you vote’. When AB Vajpayee had announced that there will be free and fair elections, only then Kashmiris had put some faith in elections. Today they are repeating (unfair practices of 1987) and threatening people…

If you want to finish that faith so that some proxy candidate wins then talk straight and we will withdraw,” she said.

Denying us a free and fair election is a grim echo of 1987: PDP candidate Parra

PDP’s Srinagar constituency candidate Waheed Parra alleged denial of fair and free elections by the officials in Kashmir. “Rigging, arresting, and raiding our workers, alongside enforcing boycotts in PDP areas, blatantly contradicts national interests and fuels serious trust deficit. Those officials responsible for such actions are betraying Indian interests and extinguishing the hopes of Kashmir youth. Denying us a free and fair election is a grim echo of 1987, a threat to democracy itself. FYI Sir, @narendramodi @AmitShah @ECISVEEP,” he said, tagging the EC.

He also alleged that a police officer was attempting to enforce a boycott in the elections. “In the past, Kashmir has experienced boycotts at the behest of separatists. Today, we’re witnessing a similar scenario, with an IPS officer of ADGP rank, Vijay Kumar, allegedly directing officials to minimise voter turnout by detaining, harassing our workers. Such actions serve the interests of anti-national elements, not India,” he said. Kumar has not yet reacted over the allegations.

Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari, in a statement, also denounced the “unjustified arrests” of its workers and termed the police action as a “blatant attempt to manipulate the polls”.

CEO issues statement

Chief electoral officer (CEO) of J&K, Pandurang K Pole, in a statement said that they have taken cognisance of the matter. “On social media, there have been some grievances of alleged intimidation of political workers of certain parties and the use of Section 144 order. The Election Commission of India has taken cognizance of the matter,” the statement said.

Police deny allegations

Police has denied all the allegations. In a statement, it claimed that the statements and speculations of political parties suggesting that police has been harassing their party workers is without basis. “ There have been actions regardless of party affiliation pertaining to violations such as seizure of cash, narcotics, liquor and preventive actions against miscreants and potential offenders with a background of linkages to terrorism and separatism, “ it said. Source

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