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Casting votes in the upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir is like “signing a surrender pact” because New Delhi has always projected people’s participation in the polls as a “referendum in its favour”, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said on Sunday, and reiterated the Joint Resistance Leadership’s poll boycott call.

Addressing a seminar organised by the Hurriyat Conference (G) to pay tributes to Imam Hussain (AS), Malik said: “I hardly see any difference between Karbala and the present situation in Kashmir. Karbala was the battle between truth and falsehood and in Kashmir we are fighting the same battle today. Imam Hussain (AS) was asked to sign an agreement of surrender but he refused to do so. I believe casting vote in the upcoming civic polls is tantamount to signing the (same) surrender pact.”

The leadership in New Delhi has been projecting people’s participation in polls as referendum in its favour and telling the world that Kashmir issue was a problem of a few people being sent by Pakistan, the JKLF chairman said.

“New Delhi has been selling participation of people in the poll process before the world community as people’s faith in the Indian constitution,” Malik said.

He said that the job of resistance leadership is to spread the word about boycott of all kinds of polls. “Then, it is for the people to take a final call,” he said. “When there will be no votes and polling stations would wear a deserted look, only then pressure would mount on the international community to force New Delhi to resolve Kashmir.”

Malik said that people must understand why New Delhi is so “adamant” to hold the polls. “It is because participation of people (in these polls) gives visa to India to stay in Kashmir,” he said. “We must realise that so far, we have lost four generations to the conflict and now it is high time to stay away from the poll process.”

The government has announced polls to urban local bodies and panchayats from next month. Two principal mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir—the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party—have announced boycott of these polls, citing “assault” on Article 35-A which has been challenged in the Supreme Court. The Article gives special rights and privileges to the state’s permanent residents.

Comparing the ongoing Kashmir movement with the Karbala battle, the JKLF chief said that Imam Hussain (AS), his family and companions were less in number while there was a full-fledged state in the opposition.

“Now if we assess the present situation in Kashmir, there are lakhs of forces personnel and only a few militants which New Delhi also agrees. Yet innocent people are being killed every day while pellets are showered on those who raise their voice against oppression. Properties are being vandalised, houses blown up, and people of all ages asked to come out and stay in open, in several areas, by the government forces,” he said.

He said that the beauty of Karbala is that even after passage of more than 1400 years, people continue to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS).

“Today we have graveyards of martyrs everywhere in Kashmir. Jails are filled with prisoners and in a prison in Udhampur, inmates are pushed to forced labour. Our elderly prisoners are kept naked in jails,” Malik said..

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