Hurriyat U-turn, now calls for poll boycott

23 April 2009
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: In a U-turn, the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference on Thursday went back on its decision not to call for a poll boycott in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the people to stay away from Lok Sabha elections. 'Election is no substitute to the wishes of the people of Kashmir. We will boycott the elections till Kashmir issue is resolved,' Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told reporters here after the working committee meeting of the separatist amalgam, which had only last week announced that it will not call for a poll boycott for the first after 15 years. The April 16 statement by Maulvi Mohammad Abbas Ansari, who was the acting chairman of the Hurriyat in the Mirwaiz's absence, had drawn a sharp reaction from PoK-based United Jehad Council, an amalgam of 13 militant outfits which had called for boycott of the elections. With some of Hurriyat's 23 constituents, including Democratic Front led by Shabbir Shah, National Front and People's Political Front headed by Fazl Haq Qureshi opposing Ansari's statement, a fresh meeting was convened by Mirwaiz, who cut short his stay in Delhi where he was undergoing treatment since April 4, to discuss the issue yesterday. The Mirwaiz on Thursday requested people not to take part in poll process and said they will soon start their anti-election campaign. Despite a similar boycott call by separatists, a record turn out was witnessed during the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir last year.