Mirwaiz asks Kashmiris to boycott polls

April 23rd, 2009 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, April 23 (IANS) Reversing its earlier stand of “non-interference in elections”, the separatist Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Thursday asked people in Jammu and Kashmir to stay away from the Lok Sabha polls.
The Hurriyat boycott comes months after people in the troubled state rejected the separatists’ call not to vote in assembly elections in November-December last year. Over 60 percent of electorate voted in the 2008 elections defying the diktats from the two factions of the Hurriyat - led by Mirwaiz and Syed Ali Geelani.

“Elections have never been our agenda and that is why we called them a non-issue and have asked the people to stay away from these,” the Mirwaiz told reporters here.

He spoke to the media after the two-day long marathon session of his Hurriyat’s 26-member general council and the eight-member executive council.

Asked if the Hurriyat was specifically asking people to boycott the elections, Mirwaiz said, “When we say we reject the elections, it means we ask the people to boycott them.”

He said elections were no answer to the Kashmir problem.

“Elections are no substitute to the right of self-determination and the people cannot determine their future through these,” he said.

“Yes, certain sections of the people especially in the Jammu and Ladakh regions have voted voluntarily in these elections, but that has not changed the basic dynamics of the Kashmir dispute,” he added.

The Mirwaiz Hurriyat had earlier decided not to call for the poll boycott and its acting chairman Abbas Ansari last week said the separatist group had delinked the Kashmir issue from electoral politics.

A prominent Shia leader and member of the group’s executive council, Ansari invited criticism from many Hurriyat constituents and also the Pakistan-based United Jehad Council (UJC) - an amalgam of 13-militant groups fighting inJammu and Kashmir.

The Geelani Hurriyat had already called for boycott of the polls.

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