Hizbul 'hit list' candidates moved to 'safer locations'

ULB elections underway in Kashmir after 7 years

Jammu and Kashmir police have moved at least 30 candidates contesting urban local bodies (ULB) polls to ‘safer locations’ after their names were released on social media by accounts associated with militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen recently.
 
“It was not possible to provide security to all of them individually. So we have moved them to safer and secure locations,” a senior police official said.
 
The list doing the rounds on social media had names of 17 Congress and 13 BJP candidates and also included names their parents, residence and ward number from which nomination has been filed. All these candidates belong to Aishmuqam and Dooru municipal councils in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
 
However, despite being relocated to ‘safer locations’, the candidates remain worried. “They (police) have, for now, moved us to protected locations. But what after the polls are over? Will we be protected or left to die?” a candidate was quoted by a local newspaper as having said.
 
The candidate, who has been relocated to the government housing colony in Khannabal, Anantnag, said, “But the fact is that we are braving threats to our life and a social stigma has been attached to us. We want to do something for the people and that is why I decided to contest polls despite threats.”
 
The ULB elections, being conducted in the state after a gap of 13 years, will be held in four phases between October 8 and 16. The Hizbul has issued a strong warning to those participating in the polls, asking them to get shrouds along with the elections forms. “We have already got barrels of acid and we will blind those people who participate in these elections, so that they know the pain of our pellet-blinded youth,” Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo said in an audio message a few weeks ago.
 
The militant threats and poll boycott calls by separatists and regional mainstream parties – NC and PDP had already an impact on the poll exercise. For 177 municipal wards out of a total 624 in Kashmir, no candidate has filed nomination papers while 215 wards will return their representative unopposed.
 
A good number of candidates contesting polls in volatile south Kashmir areas are migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who no longer live in the areas they are contesting from. But there are some locals also who have taken the risk and jumped into the fray.
 
Around 17 lakh electors are eligible to vote in the four-phased ULB polls in the state with Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) having the highest number of 6,63,775 electors followed by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) with 4,00,301 electors.

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Hizbul 'hit list' candidates moved to 'safer locations'

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