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'Polls are Futile': NC Demands Release of Political Leaders, May Boycott Kashmir's Local Body Elections

'Polls are Futile': NC Demands Release of Political Leaders, May Boycott Kashmir's Local Body Elections

In September 2018, the NC and the PDP, the two main regional parties of J&K, had boycotted the Panchayat elections seeking the protection of state’s special status under Article 370.

Srinagar: The National Conference (NC) may boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Kashmir which are scheduled to be held on October 24. This was hinted by the NC delegation which met party president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah in Srinagar on Sunday.

The last date to file nomination is October 9 and the poll process for the second tier of the Panchayati Raj system will be completed by November 5.

The delegation, led by NC provincial president Jammu Devendra Singh Rana, met the three-time chief minister and incumbent Member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah at his Gupkar residence. He has been placed under detention here since August 5 when the Centre stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories.

In September 2018, the NC and the PDP, the two main regional parties of J&K, had boycotted the Panchayat elections seeking the protection of state’s special status under Article 370.

The octogenarian leader Farooq and his wife Molly came out to greet the delegation on their arrival at his residence on Sunday. This was also the first time, after he was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA), that senior Abdullah was captured on camera as he flashed a victory sign towards the reporters who had gathered outside his residence.

Later, the delegation, which had got permission from the Governor Satyapal Malik to visit the Abdullahs, had a meeting with Omar also, who is in solitary confinement at a government guest house in Srinagar.

“We met the leaders and inquired about their health,” said NC’s Member Parliament from Anantnag, Hasnain Masoodi.

“There is no political atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir right now and talking about or participating in elections is futile,” Masoodi said.

NC leader Devender Singh Rana, who is also brother of senior BJP leader and union minister Jitendra Singh, said that both the leaders are doing fine.

Rana, after the meeting, told the reporters that for any political process to begin, the leaders of the party need to be released.

“There is anguish on the developments taking place in Valley, particularly the lockdown. To start the political process and to revive the democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, we request the government to release the political detainees who have no criminal record,” Rana said.

On party's participation in BDC elections, Rana said, "There is a complete lockdown. If the political process has to start, then these members have to be released.”

Farooq was booked under PSA last month and his residence has been declared a sub-jail. Last month, two NC MPs, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, had met Abdullahs after the High Court granted them permission.

The Abdullah father-son duo are among dozens of political leaders who are either under detention or house arrest in Kashmir since August 5. Former CM and president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti has also been placed under detention.

Meanwhile, a 10-member delegation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was on Sunday granted permission to meet party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Monday, hours after an NC delegation met their party leaders.