Ahead of the first phase of urban local body polls that begin in Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow, many voters in Srinagar are “clueless” about the exercise and the candidates they are supposed to vote for. Most of them do not even know when to vote.
Shoaib Ahmad, resident of an uptown Srinagar locality said people in his ward did not know who the poll candidates were. “Ask anyone here if they know who the candidates are. Everyone will tell you, they have no idea,” he said. Mr Ahamd added that the government was only interested in “showing” that elections were being held.
The situation in Kashmir does not allow candidates to campaign freely, there is a threat to their lives. While separatists have called for a boycott of the polls, terrorists have threatened to target people taking part in these elections, a police officer said.
“We have no idea who is contesting from our ward. There has been no campaign or door-to-door canvassing by anyone so far. Even the government has not put the details of the candidates on the election commission website. There are simply no details anywhere. Only the candidate would know that he is contesting. Perhaps, even their family does not, such is the secrecy,” a Ganderbal resident said.
Apart from secrecy surrounding candidates, people do not know when to vote.
“People are clueless about the date of voting. The government should have advertised in newspapers with poll details on a phase-basis. Most of the people here do not know their ward numbers. Nothing like this has ever happened,” another resident said.
A senior Congress leader said the atmosphere in the state was not conducive for polls, but the party decided to contest after the Centre “forced” the elections on the people. “This is the most low profile election in the history of the state. We have not seen anything like this. The atmosphere was not conducive for the polls, but it was thrust on us by the Centre,” he said.
The Congress leader said the secrecy maintained by the administration over the whole process has cast a shadow over the exercise. “We have received complaints of people not knowing who is in the fray. See, the candidates have been taken to secure locations and virtually put under house arrest,” he said.