Azad promises free and fair polls in J&K

5 May 2008
The Hindu

Srinagar: Setting aside speculation about rigging in the upcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday promised to hold free and fair polls in the State. “Those (political parties) speculating about rigging in the polls are doing so to cover up their own fears that they may not perform well at the hustings,” Mr. Azad told reporters after the reopening of the civil secretariat here during the biennial Darbar move. Reaffirming his commitment to hold free and fair polls in the State the Chief minister asserted, “the elections would be the most free and fair of all, not only in the country but in the whole world.” Threatening government officials with dismissal from service if found guilty of electoral malpractice, he asked political parties to fight elections on the strength of their policies and performance. Stating that the Congress-PDP Government in the State had created an atmosphere of peace and progress during the last five years, Mr. Azad made a special reference to improvement on the human rights front. “Custodial deaths have come down to near zero level while there has been no case of custodial disappearance for the last two years. Men and women are now freely moving around and carrying on their normal activities,” he said. The work culture introduced by him had yielded positive results, Mr. Azad claimed, complimenting people and government officials for their support to his efforts to improve the development scenario in the State. The civil secretariat, the centre of power in Jammu and Kashmir, functions here for six months during summer and at Jammu in winter as per a practise established by the erstwhile Dogra Maharajas of the State.