Hurriyat Conference takes anti-poll stand

Shujaat Bukhari

Mirwaiz announces decision after two days of discussions

Mirwaiz plans door to door campaign to explain his stand

Says elections in the presence of 7 lakh troops is itself a dispute

SRINAGAR: The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Thursday came out with a call to the people not to take part in the parliamentary elections, saying that the exercise did not go with the “sacrifices made by the people for the right of self-determination.”

After two days of deliberations during which serious differences on the issue had surfaced among some sections of the organisation, the young Mirwaiz told a news conference that the Hurriyat would launch a door-to-door campaign to explain to the people that elections were no substitute to their “demand for freedom and the sacrifices they have made.”

The emergency meeting of the Hurriyat’s executive and general council had followed its acting chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari saying that they would not go for a poll boycott but would leave the decision to the “conscience of people.” He had rebuffed the militants on the issue initially, but many constituents of the Hurriyat took exception to that position and asked the Mirwaiz to take a fresh view on the matter.

The Mirwaiz said on Thursday: “Elections have never been a substitute to the struggle for freedom. We’ll stay away from the polls.”

“Hurriyat leaders will brief the people that holding the elections in the presence of more than seven lakh troops was itself a dispute, as the Kashmir dispute is,” he said. “Even if the voter turnout is 100 per cent, the Kashmir dispute will remain. When the Election Commission belongs to India, the troops present here are Indian, and the election observers are Indian, holding elections in Kashmir is itself a dispute.”

Referring to an earlier statement by the Hurriyat that elections were a “non-issue,” he said it was “not a question of us saying issue or non-issue or asking the people to vote or not to.” He added: “Whosoever votes here [does so] over day-to-day problems and [it] has no political connotation.”

He wanted the Kashmir issue to be resolved as the Northern Ireland and Kosovo disputes were settled, as per the wishes of the people. “First the Kashmir dispute should be resolved, then elections will be automatically held,” he said.

He accused mainstream parties such as the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, of exploiting popular sentiment merely to come to power. “They cannot resolve the Kashmir issue. They are simply cheating the people just to get votes. They have decided their fate within the Indian Constitution,” he added.

On the Hurriyat’s role, he said: “Our agenda is clear: the right to self-determination and freedom of Kashmir. At the same time, we are ready to discuss any out-of-the-box solution, like the former Pakistan President’s four-point proposal.” He maintained that the role of the militants cannot be ignored. “We can’t ignore the role of militants. It’s because of the sacrifices of people including militants that the Kashmir issue started knocking at the doors of the world community.”

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