Hizb-ul threatens acid attack on voters in upcoming panchayat polls

Hizb-ul threatens acid attack on voters in upcoming panchayat polls

Days after Jammu and Kashmir government announced that it would hold panchayat elections from February 15, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit on Monday threatened to pour acid into the eyes of people who participate in the poll process.

 

An audio clip, said to be "leaked conversation" between Hizb-ul Operational Commander Riyaz Naikoo and another commander Sameer Tiger, circulated on social media, threatened to blind the people who participate in the poll process.
"You saw in 2016 how many youth lost their eyesights (to pellets). That is why we have planned…whosoever fights elections, he will be dragged out of his home and acid will be poured into his eyes so that he loses his eyesight and becomes a burden to his family for life," Naikoo was heard saying in the clip.

 

DH could not independently verify the authenticity of the audio message but police sources said the voice matched earlier clips released by Naikoo, who succeeded slain Burhan Wani as Hizb-ul chief.

In the 12:34-minute clip, Naikoo also threatened the local community leaders who prompt people to fight elections, saying they will also face the same fate.

The panchayat polls were scheduled in 2016 when the five-year term ended, but the elections could not be held due to unrest in the Valley following the killing of Burhan Wani by security forces on July 8, 2016. The polls could not be held last year as well due to unrest during most part of 2017.

The by-election for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after Mehbooba Mufti was elected as Chief Minister in 2016, is yet to be held after it was cancelled following widespread violence on April 9 last year during the Srinagar parliamentary by-polls, which recorded only 6% turnout. Nine people died in the violence that day.

On December 26, the state government announced a massive exercise to elect nearly 18,785 panchs and 2,369 sarpanchs in Kashmir during the elections. The last panchayat election was held in 2011, which saw a record 80% voter turnout.

While more than a dozen panchayat members were killed by the militants between 2011 and 2017, the polls last time, which were held after a gap of three decades, were   violence-free. Pakistan based Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salah-ud-Din had that time (in 2011) initially announced that they would not target people associated with the panchayat poll process.

Boycott call  

However, later he retracted saying panchs and sarpanchs were exploited by India to project Kashmir as pro-India and "they will continue to be targeted no matter how much the government tries to secure them."

Besides the militant's threats, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have also called for a boycott of the upcoming elections.

 
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