Meagre turnout in local polls as voters didn’t want to be identified, says Jammu and Kashmir governor

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik said the ongoing local body polls saw meagre turnout in the Valley in the first two phases because people wanted to vote but the situation did not allow them to do so.

“Hurriyat, militants and some mainstream parties issued boycott calls, which created an atmosphere of fear. Voters don’t want to get identified.

At some places they came out to vote in the early morning darkness, so that nobody could see them. This is how people have been kept away from development and progress,” Malik told ET.

He said that false narratives were manufactured around Articles 35 (A) and 370 and excuses were created to halt democratic processes.“We expect good voting in panchayat elections as every sarpanch knows that he will get `1 crore to spend,” said Malik. “The silver lining is that these elections are going on without any major violence.

Some people are trying to trigger violence but we have made foolproof security arrangements. Now we have to ensure safety of candidates who will win or have won.”

The governor said the government is ready to talk to militants if they shun arms and that the sky is the limit for any such dialogue, even as he ruled out autonomy or secession.

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“Trifurcation of the state will bring disaster. J&K is a reality and it has to be like this. No autonomy or creation of a separate or new country is possible, but borders will definitely be more open in future,” he said.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the best bet for the state and that Modi is completely following the footsteps of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Modi has given him a free hand to develop the state, he said.

Malik said the ongoing militant movement is not bringing any results and even if 350 boys (who have joined militant ranks) are killed 600 more will take up arms due to the false narrative peddled here for the past 40 years.

Talking about Manan Wani, a PhD scholar turned militant who was killed earlier this week, the governor said, “Manan was a brilliant boy. I read his articles. They had factual inaccuracies, but why should he die?”

Source: Economic Times