Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami has cited alleged confinement of candidates of a grouping of major regional parties ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu & Kashmir against their wishes and urged lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha to ensure free and fair elections.
The CPI(M) is contesting the polls as part of the grouping called People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, which was formed last month to fight for the restoration of Jammu & Kashmir special status that was revoked last year with the nullification of the Constitution’s Article 370.
In a letter to Sinha, Tarigami wrote a number of candidates of the grouping have been kept away from their constituencies and “bundled into cluster accommodations”. He added they are not allowed to campaign due to perceived threats to their lives. “Confining candidates against their wishes has severely restricted their movement and ability to campaign.”
Tarigami said in some cases, the candidates are not even allowed to attend the meetings of their parties. “Some cases have surfaced where opposite candidates are sent in the same vehicle to a village for campaigning and are asked to campaign together. Several candidates from far off places were sent to hotels in Srinagar soon after they filled the nomination forms last week. Not just the voters, but the families of the candidates are also concerned.”
Tarigami called it a big concern and said there is a lot of dissatisfaction over such arrangements.
“Who wins and who loses, the decision must lie with the electorate. Democracy must finally win. For that, the process must be made secure and credible. It is advisable not to put avoidable restrictions on the contesting candidates and instead their legitimate movement for the campaigning in their respective areas must be effectively facilitated. Ensuring a free and fair environment for this process is essential.”
Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah earlier accused the police of harassing their workers ahead of the polls from November 24.