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Occupied Kashmir shuts down against holding of panchayat polls

SRINAGAR (Web Desk) – Shops, businesses and schools were shut in occupied Kashmir on Saturday to register protest against the holding of so-called panchayat elections in India occupied Kashmir.

Call for the shutdown has been given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.

All shops and business establishments are closed while traffic is off the road.

The nine-phased panchayat elections commenced in the occupied territory amid tight security and heavy deployment of Indian troops and police personnel.

The resistance leaders have urged the Kashmiri people to boycott the panchayat elections in the same way they boycotted the recently held local bodies’ elections. The leaders have also called for the strike in the poll-bound areas on their scheduled dates.

The occupation authorities have also suspended train service in the territory.

IOK people have lost faith in every electoral exercise: Mirwaiz

The Chairman of Hurriyat forum, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that the resistance leadership and the people of Kashmir have time and again rejected every election imposed on them by India to dilute the disputed nature of Kashmir.

While addressing a gathering in Srinagar, he asserted that India was using elections to give legitimacy to its forcible control over Kashmir and Kashmiris had lost faith in every electoral exercise.

The chairman maintained that New Delhi is changing the meaning of democracy in Kashmir. “Holding elections has no meaning for a place where all basic human, democratic, political and even religious rights of people are trampled through military might,” he said. The people of Kashmir will once again reject the sham panchayat polls in the same way they out-rightly rejected the urban local body polls recently, he added.

Mirwaiz said no one is averse to elections as it is an accepted democratic practice across the globe, where people exercise their choice and decide how and by whom they want to be ruled. “But this is not the case in Kashmir, where elections are used as a means to continue the forced rule of New Delhi over the territory,” he said, adding that the elections will continue to be a futile exercise in Kashmir unless democracy is not restored and allowed to flourish in the real sense.

The Hurriyat forum Chairman said a strange kind of democracy is in practice in Kashmir at the behest of lakhs of forces’ personnel present here with unbridled powers given to them and absolute impunity from any sort of accountability.

He deplored that homes are blasted; elderly people are harassed and placed under detention. He said the resistance leadership is arbitrarily caged and put in jails. “In a place where all power and control flows from the barrel of the gun, holding elections is not only meaningless but a mockery,” he added.

Mirwaiz said every day, cordon and search operations are launched in towns and villages where youth are killed, maimed, thrashed or arrested. He said the government of India cannot stop people of Kashmir from demanding their legitimate right, the right to self-determination. Unless New Delhi takes concrete steps to resolve the Kashmir dispute, people will continue to stay away from every so-called election, he maintained.

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