Srinagar: The National Conference (NC) is not likely to take part in the upcoming Block Development Council elections stated to take place in Jammu and Kashmir this month.
Following their meeting with party chief Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah, senior NC leaders Hasnain Masoodi and Devender Singh Rana told ThePrint that due to the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the detentions of its leadership, taking part in the elections was not an option for the party.
A delegation of leaders of the other major party in the Valley, the Peoples Democratic Party, is also likely to meet its chief Mehbooba Mufti Monday, sources said.
Both parties had been granted permission by J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik to meet the detained leaders.
Meetings with the Abdullahs
A 15-member delegation of NC leaders from Jammu, as well as the two party MPs from Anantnag and Baramulla, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Masoodi, met the Abdullahs separately in Srinagar Sunday. The delegation was led by Rana, NC’s provincial president for Jammu and the brother of Jitendra Singh, the BJP leader and Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The delegation met Farooq Abdullah at his Gupkar Road residence in the morning, before meeting his son Omar at Hari Niwas in Srinagar, where he has been incarcerated since 5 August, the day the Narendra Modi government scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories — J&K and Ladakh.
The senior Abdullah, a former chief minister and sitting MP from Srinagar, was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act last month, and his residence declared a “sub-jail”.
“Both Farooq sahab and Omar sahab are in high spirits. They are, however, pained and anguished at what is happening in the state,” said Rana.
‘Release the leaders first’
Asked if the NC would participate in the BDC elections, scheduled for 24 October, Rana said for any political process to begin, the leaders of the parties need to be released.
“There is a complete lockdown. If the political process has to start, then these members have to be released. How can we think of elections when the leader of the party is under arrest?” Rana asked.
“The working committee of the party will have a meeting soon to chalk out the future plans. However there is consensus among the party leaders and cadres that taking part in the elections is not an option for us.”
Meanwhile, Masoodi, a former J&K High Court judge, said the situation in Kashmir was still tense.
“Communications are down, students are not turning up at their schools and public transport is missing from the streets. Businesses, shops — all of them are observing shutdowns,” he said.
“The situation here is not conducive to political activity or political process, let alone elections. The arrest of political leaders has sent the wrong message, and their continued detention will not help the situation.”
‘Centre must come clean’
Earlier this week, restrictions on Jammu-based mainstream political leaders put under house arrest were lifted. Subsequently, Farooq Khan, adviser to the J&K Governor, said all political detainees would be set free in a phased manner.
However, the state administration has not confirmed the dates when the leaders will be released.
Masoodi also said the Centre must makes its stand on political detainees clear. “Someone issues a statement that they will be released one by one. Then, the next day, someone issues a contradictory statement. The central government must come clear with its stand,” he said.