Srinagar: Stung by massive participation in
the 2008 Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, militant
outfits like Laskar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen have
warned the people against taking part in the upcoming
Panchayat polls in the state beginning later this month.
Posters of LeT and Hizb have appeared outside mosques and
other prominent places in rural areas like Shopian, Sopore and
Bandipora in the Valley warning people not to take part in the
civic polls, a senior intelligence official said.
He said the anti-election posters have appeared in the
areas where there is still significant presence of militants
and their sympathisers.
"This seems to be a reaction to the massive participation
in the Assembly elections in 2008 and a good turnout in the
Parliamentary elections held in early 2009," he said.
The security forces across Kashmir and other
militancy-infected areas of the state have been put on an
alert after these posters appeared, he said.
Although the official put the number of active
militants in the valley at around 300 only, he said they were
enough to create sense of insecurity among the people, which
could affect the voter turnout.
"We have already seen one political killing last week.
A National Conference worker was shot dead in Tral area of
Pulwama district," he said.
The official said steps have been taken to ensure that
the militants are put on the backfoot and that they are not
able to interfere in the democratic process.
"Police, paramilitary forces, Army and intelligence
agencies are working in coordination on counter-insurgency
operations so that we are able to get the militants before
they can cause any serious damage," he said.
As part of the strategy, area domination in rural areas
is being carried out by intensifying the night patrol and
increasing the vigil around security installations and
vulnerable persons like political activists.
The effects of militant threats are already visible as in
Qoimoh block in Anantnag district more than three dozen
candidates will be declared elected unopposed as there was
only one contestant for these seats.
Qoimoh block, which had witnessed more than 70 per cent
turn out in 2008 Assembly elections, will be going to polls on
Panchayat elections are being held in the state after a
gap of around 10 years with the last polls held in 2001.
Absence of Panchayats has been costing the state dearly
as Jammu and Kashmir is losing around Rs 300 crore annually in
assistance under Centrally-sponsored schemes.