Omar Fumes At Separatists' 'Boycott Politics'

15 August 2014
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: With the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly elections around the corner, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday slammed separatists' 'boycott politics', saying this has not achieved anything. He appealed to the people of Kashmir to vote in large numbers. 'Some separatists are pressing people in Kashmir to boycott elections. I ask them what has changed for the last 25 years by this philosophy,' Omar said in his Independence Day speech at Bakshi Stadium here. He said people in Jammu and Ladakh exercise their franchise with full capacity. 'What have the people of Kashmir achieved by not exercising the right of vote in great numbers?' Omar asked, and exhorted the people to vote in great numbers for peace, development and prosperity of the State during the forthcoming Assembly elections. The Assembly elections in the State are likely to be held in November-December. Omar said the 2008 Assembly elections were not contested for resolution of Kashmir issue but to improve basic amenities like electricity, water supply, roads, education and healthcare. 'I won't tell you whom you should vote for or whom not to vote for. I will only tell you to please vote as it helps in the development process,' he said. The separatist camp already called for boycott of Assembly elections. On the occasion, Omar also announced two sops for the people. He announced reduction in electricity duty from 22 per cent to 10 per cent and five per cent reservation for Pahari speaking people. The Independence Day functions in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley passed off peacefully. Security forces armed with weapons were deployed in sensitive areas and outside venues where Independence Day functions were held. Authorities had imposed security restrictions in parts of old city Srinagar to prevent people from disturbing law and order. All top separatist leaders, including hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik and senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, were placed under house arrest to prevent them from leading anti-government demonstrations.