National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, who is contesting the bypoll to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, today claimed that the PDP-BJP government had failed to provide a conducive atmosphere for peaceful election after clashes erupted during polling.
“The election should have been peaceful. That’s what elections are. People have to show their presence and support to whoever they want to. That is the first and foremost thing about the freedom of this nation.
“People have fought for this vote and they should be able to utilise it. Unfortunately this government has failed in giving that peaceful atmosphere to people so that they can come out and vote,” Farooq said while reacting to the deaths during violence at Budgam polling stations.
The former chief minister said the deaths showed “how much the situation has deteriorated”.
He said people had died in Budgam district and many were injured by pellet guns “it shows the situation has worsened.
We hope that the polling will take place as we go on and the people will be able to express their opinion”.
On the low voter turnout, the former chief minister alleged, “The tragedy is that the government is frightening them. That is the problem…we caught people who were sending (boycott) letters. They all belong to the PDP, not to any other organisation.”
Asked about his earlier statement that stone pelters were fighting for Kashmir resolution, Farooq said he stands by what he said.
“What are they fighting for! They are not fighting for themselves. They are fight for the cause of Kashmir, they want to find a peaceful settlement,” he added.
NC working president Omar Abdullah said the state government and the Centre had failed in providing a safe environment for people to cast their vote.
“We are seeing no voting. Generally parliamentary polls have lower turnout than assembly elections but even in 2014, 26 per cent people came out and they voted freely. There was no pressure on them to vote but there was no pressure on them to stay at home,” Omar said.
He said the state government and by extension the Centre along with the Election Commission, failed the people of Srinagar seat as is reflected by the violence.
He said in his political career of 20 years, he had never seen such a bad environment for elections.
“I’m talking about having fought my first election in 1998 at the peak of militancy. Even then the environment for campaigning and voting was not as bad as it is today. That may itself tell you just how mismanaged this state is under Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,” he claimed.
Omar said there were large areas from where his workers are calling him saying that they wanted to go out to vote but the atmosphere is such that they were not able to.
“This shows how much the situation has worsened in the last two years and the last few months in particular,” he added.
At least four persons were killed and several others injured as security forces opened fire on rampaging mobs in various parts of this Lok Sabha constituency today.
In some areas, the polling staff had to abandon the polling stations in the face of intense stone pelting by mobs.
Separatists groups had called for boycott of the elections and protests against the polling which they termed as “drama to mislead the international community”.