While candidates in fray for the urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir have been moved to “secure places” after the names of some went viral on the social media, the BJP has secured a majority in the militancy-infested Shopian district with its 13 candidates elected unopposed.
Twenty municipalities will go to the polls on October 13. But the strength of candidates being insufficient, voters in only four of these municipalities will cast their vote. “Many candidates will be elected unopposed. With no nominations, most wards will remain unrepresented,” said officials.
Though the authorities took care not to disclose the identity of the candidates, given the threats by militants, the names of some in two municipalities — Aishmuqam and Dooru in Anantnag district — were leaked on the social media. Consequently, the candidates were moved to safer locations.
A senior police official explained: “As security cannot be provided to every candidate, we have moved them to protected locations.”
The Tribune managed to speak to two such candidates. “Security remains a concern. I don’t know how long we will be kept here,” said one of them. An Independent, he is bound to be declared elected as the nomination of his rival, a BJP candidate, was rejected for being under-aged. The second candidate demanded long-term measures for security.
Political observers say the elections are “meaningless” with the state’s major parties, the NC and PDP, deciding to boycott over the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.
Lashing out at these parties, Ravinder Raina, the BJP state president, accused them of making a “mockery” of the democratic process. “The NC, along with the Congress, formed the Hill Development Council in Kargil recently, but are running away from the democratic process in Kashmir,” he remarked.
Asked if there were any Kashmiri Pandits among the elected candidates in Shopian, he said all 13 were local Muslims.