Elections futile, boycott them: Mirwaiz

Srinagar: Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Wednesday termed the parliamentary elections a “futile exercise” and urged the people of Kashmir to stay away from them.
“Kashmir issue is a political and humanitarian issue which needs a political solution. The elections are a futile exercise and drama and have no bearing on the Kashmir issue. People of Kashmir should stay away from it,” Mirwaiz told reporters at a news conference here.
Mirwaiz said that it is “not the civil government or administration but military which runs the affairs in the state, and change of guard will not have any effect here.”
He said that election is the spirit of democratic institutions in any state, but in Kashmir, where human rights are violated every day, this process does not mean anything.
Mirwaiz also called for a shutdown on April 12 against the proposed extension of Tosmaidan land lease to the Army. The lease is expiring on April 16.
“Tosmaidan is not only a political issue, but humanitarian, environmental and economic issue as well. The proposed extension of the lease to the Army is a move to consolidate the military occupation in the state. If we will remain silent this time the same will happen at other places as well. So I appeal the people to raise voice against the lease extension and observe complete shut down on April 12 against it,” Mirwaiz said.
He said that since 1964, when Tosmaidan was leased out to the Army for conducting firing drills, the area has been witness to scenes of simulated warfare carried out by the Army.
“During this period, the villages reverberate with the barrage of shelling and deafening explosions, forcing the villagers to stay indoors most of the time. During the time, as per government figures, 63 residents have been killed, but locals say that more than 150 people have been killed by unexploded shells in the area,” said Mirwaiz.
He said that the human and environmental cost of the military exercises is now causing an outcry not only in the affected villages, but across the Kashmir Valley.
“We appeal the people to raise voice against it,” said Mirwaiz.
“There are around 71,500 acres of land under the illegal occupation of Army and paramilitary forces, which is a cause of the concern for the people of the state as well as of Hurriyat Conference, and we will not remain mute spectator to it,” said Mirwaiz.
He said that his party has set up a committee which is working on the detailed report showing the land under occupation of military and paramilitary forces in the state. The report will be published soon.
“We have also decided to launch a sustained campaign to sensitize the people against the illegal occupation of land in the state by the Army. The campaign will include seminars and awareness programs. The program calendar will be announced soon,” said Mirwaiz.
He said that if government does not pay any attention to the issue his party will announce the second phase of the campaign and ask people to march towards the areas under military occupation.
“The way our land is put under the military occupation in the state and the way military concentration is increased in the residential areas shows the occupation mindset of the Indian state which does not want to see the issue on political lines,” said Mirwaiz.
He said that Kashmir is a political and humanitarian issue, “but unfortunately New Delhi has been focussing on military approach instead of seeking a political solution to the issue.”
“It is only the military not civil government or administration which runs all the affairs in the state,” Mirwaiz said.
He said that there will be no forward movement on Kashmir issue “unless New Delhi changes its military approach and changes its Kashmir policy.”
“Change of guard will not mean anything unless there is change of policy,” said Mirwaiz.