The Shadow of the Gun

"Numaindo Ko Maro" or Kill the Candidates

12 September 2002
By Md. Sadiq

This is the message ISI controllers based in Pakistan are sending to their operatives in Kashmir. Rumours in Srinagar have it that the going rate for assassinating a political candidate is ten lakh rupees while killing an activist fetches just a lakh. The odd part of the recent pre-election killings is the new names of organisations that have claimed responsibility for the killings. The latest killings are said to be the handiwork of an organisation known as the Al Afreen, which has never been heard of. The use of odd, unheard of names seems to be a cover designed to enhance deniability by the standard pro-Pakistan groups. Locals are confused. But one thing is sure, death warrants for hundreds of candidates have been issued by Islamabad, which refuses to accept the reality of the polls and has said it is a sham even before they have been held.

Democracy clearly is being held at gunpoint. The proof is in the facts and needs no telling:

Pakistani Cynicism

Statements by Pakistan's military ruler make it clear that Pakistan does not want the elections in Jammu & Kashmir to succeed. The elections have been pronounced a sham even before they have been held.

Pervez Musharraf"The Kashmiris don't want the elections." President Musharraf to the CNN, June 1, 2002.

" Pakistan disagrees with US view that elections in Kashmir is the first step in solving the Kashmir dispute. There is no pressure on Pakistan to support these elections. Elections can not be the substitute for the Plebiscite promised by the UN for the people of Kashmir." Pakistani FO spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan, July 20, 2002.

"The announcement by India to hold elections in Indian occupied Kashmir is yet another effort to give a mask of legitimacy to India's illegal occupation of J&K...Elections can not be a substitute for a free and impartial plebiscite under auspicious of the UN resolution...The APHC, the sole credible voice of Kashmiri people has already rejected the holding of elections as has some other parties...The Govt. of India has organise such partial elections in the past as well. This elections is always been boycotted by the Kashmiri people. If past is any guide, this elections is designed to obtained pre-determined results." President Musharraf's address to the nation, 14 August 2002.

"Elections in disputed territory of J&K can not be held free and fair in the presence of 8,00,000 lakhs India troops." Nissar Memon to the BBC, 16 August 2002

Global Support for Elections

The world in general, however, has been supportive of the election process, which could pave the way for peace in Kashmir. US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Security Chief Javiera Solana said that Pakistan should throw his weight behind the elections in Kashmir since it is the first state in solving the Kashmir dispute. (The News July 30th). French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin, addressing a press conference (Islamabad August 03) after holding talks with Musharraf and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Inamul Haque commented that the forth coming elections in J&K should be free of violence'. When asked whether he considered elections as a substitute to the plebiscite Villipin refused to answer the questions adding that it is not for me to pass the judgement on this issue. Other comments include:

Richard ArmitageUS Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, said (New Delhi Aug., 23) that there has been a change in infiltration in wrong directions in recent weeks. Armitage also endorsed India's step fair and free elections in Kashmir. He added that his country would continue to use its offices to ease the tension between India and Pakistan. ( APP, August 24).

Dr Syed Nasir Gilani of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights said (Sept. 6) that it is important India allows national, regional and international monitors as an assurance for free and fair elections. He said if the over 2.6 million Kashmiri refugees living in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan and the rest of the world are not allowed to exercise their right to vote, this elections have no meaning. The people of Kashmir continue to hold to their right to self determination.

Colin Powell, US Secretary of State assured (Sept. 9) Indian Foreign Minister, Yashwant Sinha, that US was pressing Pakistan not to interfere in the J&K elections.

Pakistani Supporters in Kashmir

Jamaat e Islami GatheringPakistan's supporters in Jammu & Kashmir are represented by the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). This body echoes the sentiments of the Pakistani establishments. Their aim like that of Pakistan, is to sabotage the polls. During its general council meeting of 13 August 2002, the APHC decided not to take part in the elections next month. The APHC insisted that any peace dialogue should be tripartite, involving Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris. Senior APHC leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tried to dispel the notion that the APHC is controlled by Pakistan. On 2 September 202, he said his party is ready for talks without any precondition. Refuting the charge that the Hurriyat was acting on the directives of Pakistan. Mirwaiz said that no one in the Hurriyat will take dictates from Pakistan. The APHC suspended four leaders of Abdul Ghani Lone's People's Conference, who filed nominations as independent candidates for the assembly elections. They are Gulam Mihi u din Sofi, Abdul Haq Khan, Abdul Rashid Mirchal, and Gulam Qadir Malik.

Signs suggested that Pakistani based leaders too want peace for Kashmir. Sardar Abdul Qayyoom, former President of PoK and veteran Kashmiri leader said: "The claim that the Kashmiri militants should leave the gun has its counter position also. The Indian armed forces must also withdraw." He however, added: "The operational headquarters of Mujahideen groups such as UJC, LeT have not shifted to PoK and I have no contacts with them. They have harmed the freedom movement by changing their agenda from Kashmir to the conquest of India."


Pakistan-based terrorist organisations not only opposed the elections but threatened to kill all those who participated. This could not be further than the kind of democracy being promised to the Kashmiris after their liberation from India. There was no attempt to disguise the murderous intentions as this chorus of warnings suggests:

2 August - The JuM issued a press statement warning people that those who dared to participate in the electoral process would be treated as traitors worthy of the death sentence.

3 August - The Tehrik-e-Jehad chief, Wasim Ahmed Beigh, asked the APHC to start its anti-election campaign.

5 August - The Tehrik-e-Jehad appealed to the people to boycott the elections and warned that those who are going to participate would face the fate of a Kafir.

5 August - The Hizbul Mujahideen pasted public posters in Ratnipura area of Pulwama directing people to refrain from participating in the electoral process.

6 August - Eijaj Ahmed (Haafiz-e-Riyasat) sent an email to Ved Bhasin, Chief Editor Kashmiri Times, warning him that their organisation has decided to put a complete ban on the print media and all reporting on the "so called elections".

6 August - Shaqab Kashmir, HM spokesman, issued a press release where he claimed that the 'movement' has entered in a decisive phase and exhorted the Kashmiri people to boycott the elections.

10 August - JuM Chief, General Abdullah, declared that whosoever participated in the Assembly elections in J&K would be targeted by his outfit. He appealed to NC workers to not prolong the India rule in Kashmir. He urged them to acknowledge APHC as the true representative forum of the Kashmiris.

10 August - Mushtaq Zargar (better known as Latrum), the Al Umar chief based in Pakistan, appealed to the masses to boycott the forthcoming Assembly elections.

13 August - The Hizbul Mujahideen in a press release disclosed that it had established 15 patrolling squads which would keep an eye on traitors and kill them.

13 August - Dukhtran e Millat chairperson, Ashiya Indrabi, appealed to the people to boycott elections under any circumstances.

14 August - The Hizbul Mujahideen, Posters pasted at Vill. Dadsara, Noorpora, Satoora of Tral Tehsil threatening people of dire consequences who tried to collect their photo I/cards were noticed.

22 August - The JuM in a press release directed scholars and Imams of all mosques to inform and explain the people all over the State the importance of their vote and explain them how it would cause harm if cast in favour of India.

24 August - The LeT warned the people not to possess electronic photo identity cards, not to talk about politics and do not have any concern with NC party.

26 August - The Hizbul Mujahideen, instructed its cadres to carry out attacks against NC workers, public meetings, polling booths and also workers of other parties to disturb the electoral process.

27 August - G.M.Shaheen, Chief Organiser AAC, in a public address, Khankah Mosque, Baramullah, appealed people to boycott the elections.

27 August - The Muslim League in a public address, Jamia mosque, BaituI Mukarram, Baramullah, appealed people to boycott the elections.

27 August - The Hizbul Mujahideen in a message through a messenger cautioned against contesting the ensuing elections.

28 August - Saif-ul-Islam of Hizbul Mujahideen in a press statement cautioned Govt. employees and transporters to remain away from election drama.

29 August - Abdul Bukhari of TeJ in a press statement, urged APHC leaders to stop hobnobbing with the Kashmir Committee and work against ensuing elections.

29/30 August - The Lashkar e Taiba in a press statement termed both the vote seekers and voters as enemies of Islam.

30 August - The JuM in a press statement stated that the outfit would ensure complete boycott of ensuing elections.

1 September - The Lashkar e Taiba in a press statement stated that elections was no solution to the Kashmir issue and that it would worsen the situation. Added that the sacrifices of the martyrs would not be let go in vain.

2 September - Engineer Jameel, Chief Operational Commander, Al-Badr, in a press statement has appealed people to boycott elections. Also appealed the people to be away from vote machine training centres, election training camps, election card centres, polling booths etc. People those who will not adhere to these instructions will himself be responsible.

2 September - The JuM, HM, Al-Badr and JeM warned the residents of Dardpora, Sogam, Dorasu and some parts of Kulgam against participating in elections/electioneering.

2 September - The Hizbul Mujahideen in a press statement stated that many hidden enemies had worn the mask of Hurriyat, now their actual faces have been exposed. Elements who want to become stooges of India, would be awarded punishment. Also appealed transporters and employees to remain away from this elections.

3 September - Gazi Nasib-ud-din, Hizbul Mujahideen, Divisional Commander, North, and Shahnawaz, Divisional Commander, Rajouri Poonch, have stated that people who are directly or indirectly involved with the election process would always remain their target.

3 September - HUJI, Al-Badr and LeT have appealed people to boycott the elections and warned them in particular NC workers to remain away from this election.

3 September - Divisional Commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen have instructed Govt. employees and transporters not to associate with elections and said that all those who demanded votes or cast votes would be considered traitors and as such would be awarded exemplary punishment.

3 September - The TeJ warned people that anybody who cast vote would be considered traitor betraying 80000 martyrs.

4 September - Supreme commander, Akhtar Abdul Rehman, Al Jabbar Chhapam ar Force of JuM, said that bombs and guns are in stock, so candidates contesting elections are advised and warned to give up their candidature till Sept. 10, otherwise they would be given severe punishment. The outfit is determined to eliminate all the traitors and pro- Indian National Conference people by October this year.

5 September - Lashkar e Taiba Operational Commanders for Banihal and Ramban claimed that elections would not resolve Kashmir issue and that Kashmir could be liberated through jehad only. Announced that it would launch fidayeen attacks during elections.

6 September - Mushtaq Gillani, Executive Director, Kashmir canadian Council, urged Shabir Shah (JKDFP) to answer that an aggressive anti-election campaign is launched through mosques and also by visiting every village.

7 September - The JuM, directed the people to stay away from the poll process.

7 September - The Hizbul Mujahideen directed the local people to remain away from the elections.

9 September - The Chief of Islamic Front, Bilal Ahmed Beig and its Amir Base Camp, S. Hussain Bukhari asked Kashmiris to remain united and claimed that actions were being taken and would be taken against participants in election process.

9 September - HM, LeT and other outfits directed the people to stay away from the poll process or else face dire consequences.

9 September - The Lashkar e Taiba declared participants in elections as enemies of Islam.

9 September - Syed Salahudin, Hizbul Mujahideen, announced cash reward of Rs.1 lakh for each contestant killed and asked his commanders to ensure that at least one candidate from each constituency was killed.

10 September - The Lashkar e Taiba claimed that those groups, which were participating in elections, were the targets of Mujahideen and also warned that whosoever came in the movement, would be killed.

11 September - The Lashkar e Taiba warned people to remain away from election rallies and other election related activities.

Blood on the Streets

No matter the world or the majority of Kashmiris might think, the Pakistani military establishment feels that peace is not possible and not desirable in Kashmir. The elections, according to it, must be discredited and the flames of violence kept alive. Terrorists sponsored by Islamabad therefore were told to spread mayhem. The first to be assassinated was veteran Kashmiri leader Abdul Ghani Lone, who had drifted away from Pakistan and was beginning to challenge the Hurriyat's authority in the Valley.

The level of violence has been steadily rising as is evident from the government official's figures. The total number of violent incidents in the 20-month period 1 January 2001 to 1 August 2002 was 1989 with 656 civilians killed. In the one and a half month period between 1 August 2002 and 11 September 2002, there have been 515 incidents and 163 civilian killings.

Period Incidents Politicians Killed Civilians Killed Soldiers Killed
1 Jan 2001 to 1 August 2002 1989 47 656 234
2 August 2002 to 10 September 2002 515 3 163 90

The Killings

The first poll candidate to be assassinated was Sheikh Abdul Rehman, an independent candidate, on 6 September 2002. He along with three other persons were killed near Kupwara when terrorists fired upon them while they were travelling in a Tata Sumo. Mushtaq Ahmd Lone, NC Candidate, was the second candidate killed since the campaign began. Terrorists shot him dead while he was addressing a public meeting at Tikipora. Two security guards of the minister and four political activists were also killed on the spot. Five more political activists were injured. The killing of Lone, who as a Law Minister was one best guarded men in the state and would travel with dozens of heavily guard soldiers and policemen, was an obvious message from militants that no one who runs in the elections is safe. Other candidates were clearly intimidated. "If Lone could be killed I don't think the Government is geared of for the elections," said Tariq Ahmed, personal secretary of People's Democratic Party and a candidate in Srinagar constituency. Tariq Ahmed said the killing would not stop him campaigning but it will create scare among local electorate. Omar Abdullah, the President of State ruling NC and another candidate called the assassinations is an attempt to thwart the electoral process. In London, British Foreign and Commonwealth office minister Mike O'Brian also denounced the assassination saying his country "continues to support the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections."

Many more political activists have been targeted and killed.

Date Place Name of the party activist/ party affiliation Brief details of incident
2.8.2002 Kuchipora Qazigund Anantnag Ali Mohd Dar NC Unidentified terrorists shot dead an NC Sarpanch .
6,8.2002 Ditiyas Doda PSO of NC Block President Unidentified terrorists shot dead PSO of NC Block President, Noor Mate and took away his SLR
7.8.2002 Dalgate bus Stand. Srinagar Gh. Hassan Jaan. Tehsil President. NC Unidentified terrorists shot him dead.
20.8.2002 Kachwa Muqam, Kreeri Baramulla Khazir Mohd Bhat PDP worker/ Sarpanch Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
23.8.2002 Arbal Tangmar Anantnag Noor Ali Paswal NC worker Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
7.9.2002 Potuwa Handwara Kupwara Gh. Mohi-ud-din NC activist/ Panchayat member Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
8.9.2002 Tengpora Bypass Srinagar (brother of NC worker-Mushtaq Ahmed Khan) Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
9.9.2002 Wagt Handwara Kupwara Md. Ahsan Dar NC worker Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
10.9.2002 Puchul Pulwama Gh. Nabi Hakim PDP activist (earlier he was block president of NC) Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
10.9.2002 Old Baramulla Town Mehra @ Buda Lady worker of Women's Wing of NC Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
11.9.2002 Surankot Bazar Poonch Election meeting Unidentified terrorists dressed in Army fatigues lobbed grenades and opened indiscriminate fire on an election meeting resulting in killing 12 (SF- 10, Civilian-2) and injuring 14 civilians.
26.8.2002 Palhalan Pattan Baramulla Hazi Aziz Bhat NC worker Unidentified terrorists shot him dead along with one army personnel.
29.8.2002 Zasoo Tahab Pulwama Abdul Rahim Dangroo NC worker Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
30.8.2002 Maidan Chougal Handwara Kupwara Mohd. Jaffar Khan NC worker Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
30.8.2002 Gundipora Beerwah Badgam Gulzar Ahmed Sofi former NC activist Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
1.9.2002 Ayatmulla Baramulla Hazi Gh. Hassan Bhat NC (Halqa) President Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
3,9.200 Singhpore Baramulla Manzoor Ahmed Bhat Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
5,9.2002 Wanbal Sora Srinagar Peer Md. Amin Shah PDP worker Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
5/ 6.9.2002 Mohanpore Kulgam Anantnag Mohd. Ibrahim Dar CPM worker Shot dead by unidentified terrorists.
6.9.2002 Pattan Baramulla Mohd. Ishaq Congress worker He was shot dead during an election meeting.

That Kashmiris are still out in the streets, attending election meetings and voicing support for their candidate is proof of the desire to use the ballot instead of the gun. The polls might not be perfect but they would be more demonstrative of the will of the people than the threats of the terrorists.