SRINAGAR: The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Thursday warned against disrespecting the people's mandate in the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir, saying tinkering with democracy is totally unacceptable.
At the end of the first meeting of the alliance after the polls, in which it secured a majority (110 seats), PAGD spokesperson Sajad Lone said there were "disturbing" reports of "interference" in the people's verdict and the "government of the day acting in a partisan manner".
The meeting took place at PAGD president Farooq Abdullah's Gupkar residence here.
"There are some disturbing reports coming about interference in democracy, in the people's verdict, wherein the government of the day is acting in a partisan manner and in fact, becoming a participant by directly or indirectly facilitating moves by some people to attract independents towards them by confining them," Lone told reporters.
Flanked by other leaders of the alliance including Abdullah, he said the government should desist from humiliating the "great verdict" of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as history has been witness that such endeavours end up as disasters.
"I think they should desist from this and not humiliate this great verdict of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. History is replete with examples that those who tried to humiliate the verdict of the people, ended up in a disaster. We need to respect this verdict and show respect to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Under no circumstances should democracy be tinkered with, interfered with -- that is totally unacceptable," Lone said.
He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir, "after so many upheavals", have reposed their faith in democracy and "it is incumbent upon and the onus lies on the administration to reciprocate that respect and faith in democracy".
Lone said the meeting was called to review the performance of the alliance in the maiden DDC polls in the Union Territory.
"We met and expressed gratitude to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, to those who voted for us and even to those who did not vote for us. We express gratitude to those who came out in very large numbers to strengthen democracy in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti did not attend the meeting, but the party was represented by its general secretary, Ghulam Nabi Hanjura.
PDP sources said Mufti was unwell and thus, could not attend the meeting.
PAGD president Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said the government should immediately release all PDP leaders who were "detained" ahead of the announcement of the District Development Council (DDC) election results if it wants democracy to survive.
Talking to reporters after the first meeting of the Peoples' Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) following the conclusion of the polls, Abdullah alleged the leaders, including former minister Naeem Akhtar, are "held up in thanas for no any rhyme or reason".
Besides Akhtar, Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) Sartaj Madni and Mansoor Hussain were among 20 leaders taken into preventive custody a day before the counting of votes for the DDC elections began on Tuesday, according to officials.
The PDP is part of the seven-party Gupkar alliance.
"Those people who are held up in thanas (police stations) for no rhyme or reason must be released immediately if you want democracy to survive," Abdullah said.
PAGD spokesperson Sajad Lone questioned the need to detain people when the elections were conducted peacefully.
"What is the logic? The election has ended. It has been one of the most peaceful elections in the last three decades. The most non-violent, peaceful election, and this should have ended with something good," he said.
"That it ends with preventive detentions is something totally antithetical to the way the elections have been held in terms of peace, lack of violence while traditionally, in the last three decades, we have seen so much of violence," he added.
Lone further said, "We condemn these detentions with all the power that we have. And we just hope that after such a great performance of democracy, we are not faced with these arbitrary detentions. They (PDP leaders) should be released immediately. This is our demand. We are here today with the mandate of the people, a majority and a decisive mandate, and we say that they should be released."
The PAGD swept the maiden DDC polls by winning 110 seats, while the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats after securing the largest vote share in Jammu and Kashmir.
Counting of votes in two of the total 280 constituencies, one each in Bandipora and Kupwara districts of north Kashmir, was deferred till further orders, officials had said.
Asked if the Gupkar alliance will continue in the future, Abdullah said, "Absolutely. Why do you have doubts about that? We are united and we will continue to be united for what this People's Declaration stands for."
The member of Parliament from Srinagar also urged the Centre to restore high-speed mobile internet in Jammu and Kashmir.
"We request the government that 4G should be restored immediately. It is unfortunate that the people of this state, our children, students, business people are suffering because now everything is online. When the prime minister is talking about 5G, we do not even have 4G. This should be restored as quickly as possible," he said.
Except for Ganderbal and Udhampur, high-speed mobile internet has remained suspended across the union territory since August 5, 2019, when the Centre revoked the special status of the erstwhile state.
The National Conference (NC) alleged on Thursday that several Independent candidates, who have emerged as winners in the DDC polls, are being coaxed and coerced to join a certain political party and asked the State Election Commission to act swiftly to save the sanctity of the polls.
In a letter to State Election Commissioner (SEC) K K Sharma, NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar sought his immediate and forceful intervention so that the entire election process does not go futile.
"I thank you for the successful conduct of the DDC elections 2020. However, while the elections and the counting commenced uneventfully, the entire exercise is set to go futile if you do not intervene immediately and forcefully," Sagar said in the letter.
He added that a very disturbing state of affairs has come to the party's notice as several Independent candidates, who won in the DDC polls, are "being coaxed and coerced" to join a certain political party.
"There are touts who are encouraging horse-trading. A display of money and bidding of price for joining them are taking place. At some places, threats and coercion are also being employed," the NC leader said.
He said the SEC should ensure that such "undemocratic practices" are looked into and that action is taken.
"The EC can employ other means to ascertain our fears and concerns. Looking forward for your swift action to save the sanctity of these elections," Sagar said in the letter.