SRINAGAR: Saying that casting of vote is a democratic right of every eligible voter, the Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah today dismissed the report attributed to him about using force to bring out electors for exercising their franchise. "The voters are free to vote whomsoever they wish: why should anybody stop them, threaten them or force them not to vote on gun point," he said.
The administration is committed to ensure peaceful polling and any attempt to coerce voters from participating in the democratic exercise would be sternly dealt with, Dr Abdullah told Doordarshan in an interview on Friday. He said sufficient security cover would be given to the people during the elections as it is responsibility of the State and "I shall not shy away from the legitimate duty as Chief Minister of the State."
"We have not employed any force during the first phase of elections in Srinagar, why should we do it now," he said adding that Pakistan does not wish people of Kashmir to participate in democratic process and their lackeys are harassing the people by issuing threatening letters and pasting posters outside the mosques. The neighbouring country does not want peace in Kashmir and for disturbing it, they have pushed in mercenaries into the State, he added.
Going by the experience during the first phase of parliamentary elections in the State in the wake of threats issued to voters, the Chief Minister said, adequate forces have been deployed to instill confidence among the voters in remaining two phases. He said pressure has been built on militants and the security forces have achieved many successes in the anti-militancy operations. Appropriate measures have been taken to meet the situation, he said.
Referring to boycott call, Dr Abdullah said the people have defied the diktats of anti-poll elements which is reflected in their massive participation in the elections rallies. Over 100 big election meetings were held in Baramulla parliamentary constituency which were addressed by the leaders of various political parties and the contestants. He said the contestants have put forth their view point before the voters and it is now for them to make their choice of candidates in true spirit of democracy.
To a question on allegations made regarding misuse of Government machinery by the ruling party, the Chief Minister said that the candidate who has leveled such charges fought last election as his party candidate and he knows well to what level Government machinery was involved in the elections. "These are baseless allegations", he said, adding that the administration took no time in recalling some Deputy Commissioners and the police officers on the advice of Election Commission. He said such irresponsible statements were being issued by those who see defeat on all fronts. He hoped that all the contestants and political parties will expose Pak game plan of scuttling the democratic process before the world.
On deployment of additional forces to the State, the Chief Minister said the step is aimed at strengthening the security grid to combat militancy. Besides instilling confidence among the voters, the deployment of forces is a part of long term plan formulated recently to clear the residual militancy, he said.
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This Archives is Maintained by Md. Sadiq, 1998