April 2019 News

Stripped Of Security, Valley Leaders Fear For Their Lives

7 April 2019
The Tribune
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: Every time Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youth leader Waheed Parra leaves for canvassing in his home district Pulwama, fear overtakes him. He is among the mainstream leaders whose security has been withdrawn, making him susceptible to militant attacks. Parra, a close aide of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, survived an assassination bid last year when militants targeted his vehicle in central Kashmir's Budgam district. 'It (security withdrawal) is aimed at restricting our activities,' said Parra, who has been attending meetings in south Kashmir for the party president, who is contesting from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. 'Our security has been withdrawn at a time when the government says even the security forces' convoys are not safe. Moving without security or bulletproof vehicles is a huge risk,' he said. Not only Parra, but the security of hundreds of political leaders and workers of the National Conference and the Congress has also been either withdrawn or downgraded. On Friday, the government said it had withdrawn the security cover of 919 'undeserving persons' since June 20, 2018, when the Governor's rule was imposed in the state. Both PDP and NC have accused the Governor's administration of selectively withdrawing the security of party leaders. They have said this tactic is an 'attempt by the government to influence the electoral process'. The PDP lodged a formal complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer of J&K, saying the withdrawal and downgrading of the security of PDP leaders was nothing but to demoralise and limit the party activities during the elections. 'It is clearly aimed at weakening the PDP and influence the election process to help a selective bunch of people and parties enlisted for adequate security and protection at the risk and cost of our leaders,' the PDP letter read. The party urged the EC to intervene and ensure that no favourtism was allowed at the time of the elections. It said the security should not be used as a tool to influence or limit the activities. National Conference leader and chief spokesman for the party Agha Ruhullah's security has been reduced by half. 'It is all being done on political considerations. Every person is given security for a reason. What the establishment is doing is all for political reasons, but it won't change our course,' said Ruhullah. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Monga said the security of dozens of party leaders, who had a security risk, had been withdrawn. The security is being withdrawn after meetings by the J&K State Security Review Coordination Committee, which is examining all individual cases. 'It is not a single person who takes a call on the security withdrawal. Seniormost officials of the CID and security wing, Inspectors General of Police of two zones and the Joint Director, IB, are part of the security review committee. The security has been withdrawn of leaders of almost every party - BJP, NC, PDP and the Congress. In most cases, the protected persons had security beyond their entitlement,' said a senior security forces officer.