October 2002 News

Lolab cops NC’s unofficial ally: People’s Conference

3 October 2002
The Indian Express
Imtiyaz Bakhshi

Srinagar: People''s Conference ‘‘proxy’’ candidate from Lolab, Abdul Haq Khan, today faxed letters to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh, the state Governor and state chief electoral officer, alleging harassment and intimidation by the Kupwara Superintendent of Police and use of the Special Operations Group for campaign by the National Conference. ‘‘There has been no action over my previous complaints, so I faxed a letter to the PM, who assured free and fair polls,’’ Haq said, alleging that G.M. Dar, the SP, got his supporters and party functionaries arrested. Lolab goes to polls in the fourth phase on October 8. Election here was countermanded following the killing of NC nominee and State Law Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone. Haq said the SP had arrested two relatives of his party block president at Tikipora on September 11, the day minister Lone was killed. ‘‘He released one of them, Farooq Ahmed, but handed him over to Ghulam Mohideen Lone, elder brother of the slain minister and our political rival,’’ he alleged. Lone’s nephew Qaiser Jamsheed Lone is now pitted against Haq on an NC ticket. J-K Chief Electoral Officer Pramod Jain said: ‘‘No formal complaint has been received. If brought to our notice, we will look into it.’’ Haq claimed two senior party functionaries and several other supporters were arrested and their houses raided by the SOG. ‘‘Dar is intimidating them so that they don’t support me. Yesterday, he put a pistol on the chest of Irshad Ahmad Khan and thrashed him. Irshad was part of a procession against the killing of three persons at Hyhama,’’ Haq claimed. Haq said that some of his supporters were released only after the intervention of DGP A.K. Suri. ‘‘I cannot contest the polls in such circumstances. Let the government transfer the SP and replace him with an officer of credibility,’’ he demanded. Earlier, G.M. Sofi, another high-profile People’s Conference ‘‘proxy’’ candidate from Handwara, had threatened to pull out two days before the first phase of polls, demanding that ‘‘pro-NC’’ local presiding officers be replaced. Fifteen officers were transferred.


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