SRINAGAR: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday sought intervention of the Election Commission to stop the alleged harassment and arrest of her party workers, a day ahead of the polls in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

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The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Srinagar Lok Sabha seat Waheed Para has accused a senior IPS officer of trying to engineer a low voter turnout in areas where the party has a strong support base.

“I am writing to you with a profound sense of urgency and grave concern regarding the troubling developments in the run-up to the elections in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, scheduled for May 13. It has come to my attention that the state administration, under the control of the Union government, is shamelessly engaged in activities aimed at intimidating voters and supporters of the People’s Democratic Party,” Mufti said in the letter to the commission.

She referred to the 1987 assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir saying it is distressing to witness history repeating itself, reminiscent of the 1987 rigged elections that caused immense suffering and political disillusionment in the region.

The former chief minister said she was “deeply troubled” by reports that the security agencies were conducting raids and harassing PDP workers in Pulwama and Shopian districts.

“Numerous party members, sympathisers, and activists have been arbitrarily detained without justification, apparently as punishment for their efforts to organise public rallies and encourage voter turnout. In a democratic society, it is imperative that both election authorities and state officials promote political participation and ensure a fair electoral process,” she said.

“Regrettably, the current situation in these areas is far from conducive to such principles,” she added.

Mufti pointed out that as the custodian of democracy, the Election Commission plays a crucial role in upholding the integrity of the electoral process and ensuring a level playing field for all political parties.

“However, recent actions, such as the delay in (elections in) the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, have raised serious concerns about the commission’s impartiality and emboldened those who seek to manipulate the electoral outcome through coercion and intimidation,” her letter read.

“The situation has escalated to a point where the security establishment is instilling a climate of fear in areas slated for elections on May 13. This appears to be a direct result of public threats made by the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, which has openly called for the arrest of PDP supporters,” she added.

Mufti said the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting the assembly of people in areas witnessing high political activities, is “shocking and deeply concerning”.

“This arbitrary restriction stifles democratic participation and violates fundamental rights, solely based on anticipated political preferences. Citizens are being deprived of their right to express their democratic voice, simply because they are expected to support the PDP,” she said.

“I must emphasise that similar concerns have been raised regarding the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency. If the Election Commission of India is unwilling to address these issues and uphold the integrity of the electoral process, it would be tantamount to condoning electoral malpractice and betraying the very essence of democracy,” she added.

The PDP chief made an “urgent appeal” to the Election Commission to take immediate action to thwart any attempt at rigging the polls.

“Through this urgent appeal, I seek not only to convey the apprehensions of my party but also to articulate the sentiments of the broader populace. I implore your office to take immediate and decisive action to thwart any attempts at election rigging and safeguard the democratic values that define our nation,” she said.

Meanwhile, her party’s Srinagar candidate took to social media to claim that a senior IPS officer was trying to engineer a low voter turnout.

In a post on X, Para said, “In the past, Kashmir has experienced boycotts at the behest of separatists. Today, we’re witnessing a similar scenario, with an IPS officer of ADGP rank, Mr. Vijay Kumar, allegedly directing officials to minimize voter turnout by detaining, harassing our workers. Such actions serve the interests of anti-national elements, not India.”

“@PMOIndia @HMOIndia We’re reaching out to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to urgently address and relocate the official from his sensitive position,” he added.

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