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PDP spanner in polls

Srinagar, Sept. 7: The People’s Democratic Party today put a spanner in the efforts to hold the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections on time.

“Elections could prove counter-productive in a situation where the people are forced into a deep feeling of alienation, disillusionment, hopelessness and aloofness,” said a resolution passed by the party.

The PDP’s move comes on the eve of a meeting between the state’s political parties and the Election Commission in Delhi to see if the polls, due in November, could be held on time.

The PDP resolution was passed at a meeting chaired by its president Mehbooba Mufti. The party asked the government to address the concerns of the people before asking them to vote.

The government must reclaim public confidence, “not by rhetoric but through substantive measures”, the resolution said.

“There is a need to put in place concrete confidence-building measures aimed at repairing people’s damaged psyche, salvaging their bruised dignity, rekindling hope in their hearts and motivating them to mould their, as well as the state’s, destiny through a consequential democratic process,” it added.

The PDP’s meeting coincided with a fresh bout of violence in the Valley following the strike call by separatists to protest the death of a youth in police firing yesterday.

Despite heavy rainfall, protesters clashed with police on Srinagar’s streets. The police lobbed tear-gas shells and used batons to disperse the crowd. A shutdown was also observed.

The PDP asked the government to revive its “healing touch” policy. “It was because of the healing touch policy that the environment of hostility and confrontation in the state and the region had been replaced by a movement for reconciliation and peace,” it said.

The party also reverted to its old demands, including rehabilitation of all victims of violence over decades, revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and reduction of troops.

“All the cross-LoC routes, including the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad, Poonch-Rawalkote, Kargil-Skardu and Suchetgarh-Sialkote roads, must be immediately opened for free movement of goods and people,” a PDP spokesperson said.

While the PDP has passed a resolution against the elections, the BJP has warned against any postponement. “The polls should be held on schedule,” general secretary Arun Jaitley said in Jammu.

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