| Mufti: Chopper trick
Langate, April 14: As the sun played hide and seek with the clouds, the 800-strong crowd was becoming restive. A three-hour wait — even for a VIP — seemed too much for the residents of this north Kashmir town in the Baramulla parliamentary constituency.
The most restless were the children who urged their parents to take them home.
“We have been waiting here for the chief minister for nearly three hours. We are getting bored. We heard the chief minister is in Kupwara,” said Mohammad Sultan, a resident of a nearby village.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party organisers tried to keep the attention of those gathered by playing folk music through loudspeakers and having a folk dancer try to revive the interest of the yawning audience.
When this also seemed to fail, a PDP leader told the gathering that chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed would soon land in a helicopter.
“Mufti sahib is coming in a helicopter. He will fly here directly. The chopper may appear over you any moment,” said a PDP leader.
Finally, the sound of the helicopter seemed to interest the gathering more than its passenger. Cheering children and elders in the park looked at the sky as the sun started filtering through the clouds.
The chopper flew over the venue and slowly landed at the heavily-guarded paramilitary camp some distance away.
Within minutes, the chief minister’s motorcade appeared near the podium with security personnel clearing the road.
After the recent grenade explosion in Uri, the authorities here are leaving nothing to chance. They have erected barricades and laid checkpoints at least at three places before the park entrance.
The crowds cheered as Mufti, along with two senior ministers, appeared on stage.
“This is my first visit to Langate since we assumed power in the state. I have come with great expectations and I am sure you will vote for my party’s candidate, Nizam-ud-din Bhat. I assure you that if Nizam wins this seat, he will be your voice in Parliament,” the chief minister said.
“We facilitated the dialogue process and it is because of our efforts that the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference has completed two rounds of talks with deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani,” claimed the chief minister. “Advanji, who they say is a hardliner, has talked to the Hurriyat delegation twice and the process has yielded positive results so far,” Mufti told the audience, which responded by cheering.
“You all have to come out to vote on the polling day,” added the chief minister.
Mufti asked those “who will vote for his party candidate on April 20” to raise their hands. When the audience did, he said: “I will come to you again after the elections once our candidate wins to address your local problems”.
However, Abdul Rashid, a local resident, says: “It will depend on the situation. It is Kashmir, so you have to be careful. If the situation is okay, I will vote for the PDP.”