October 2002 News

End of J&K elections victory of ballot over bullet

9 October 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: The completion of all the four phases of elections in Jammu and Kashmir has proved that the people of the State have rejected the rule of bullet and favoured ballot despite heightened killings by militants which left more than 250 people dead. An official spokesman of the State Government said that militants resorted to several methods to scare away voters but the fact that over 40 per cent of people cast their ballot was in itself an indication of the victory of ballot over bullet. The spokesman, while detailing the number of incidents since the electoral process began in the State, said that 210 innocent civilians have been killed by militants besides gunning down 45 political activists of which the ruling National Conference bore the major brunt with 28 activists and candidates of the party falling prey to militancy. This was followed by five workers of Peoples Democratic Party, three of Communist Party of India (Marxist), five independent candidates, three of Nationalist Congress Party and one of Congress, the spokesman said. Besides this, three Panchayat members and one Sarpanch were also shot dead by militants, he said. During the entire operations, the spokesman said, that 143 police and security personnel also laid their lives whereas 35 militants were shot dead. The spokesman said that ever since elections were announced, Pakistan and the militants sponsored by it did everything to derail this process. In fact, it was a fight between manipulation or sabotage by militants and people’s determination to express their free will through transparent and credible elections and at the end the people won, he said. Commending the people of the State, the spokesman said keeping the nefarious designs of the militants and separatist outfits of the State in mind, voters have shown unparallel courage. Comparing the elections with that of Parliamentary elections, he said an estimated 43.14 per cent polling was recorded in 1998, while it fell to 37.24 in 1999 because of the growing militant threat. However, in 2002 Assembly elections, a percentage of nearly 46 per cent in all the four phases was indicative of growing hatred of people against bullet and gun culture, he said. Brave and courageous people of the state for their grit and firm commitment to democracy came out in large numbers to polling booths notwithstanding threats, intimidations, violence and anti-election propoganda, he added. He said the number of participation of candidates have shown a steady increase from 1987 when the number was only 518. In 1996 assembly elections, the number of candidates had increased to 546 while this time it was 710. Besides this, 2031 election rallies were organised by the political parties with National Conference taking a lead by organising 877 such meetings followed by PDP (330), Congress (323), BJP (144) and Independents (141). The spokesman said that in order to instil confidence of people in poll process, the Election Commission transferred every single police or administrative officer against whom any political party had even an iota of doubt. The icing on the cake was the witnessing of elections by foreign diplomats, who left satisfied, he added. (PTI)


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