Downtown a no-go area for pro-India parties

Srinagar: Public anger and recent spurt in militant attacks across the Valley has led to fear psychosis among the cadres of pro-India parties who are reluctant to hold rallies and roadshows in downtown Srinagar for their party candidates who will be trying their luck in the Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held on April 31.
While the high rung politicians claim that their party workers were ready to hold big rallies and roadshows in the old city, the grass root level workers express apprehensions over their security in view of public anger. The fear has been reinforced by a spate of attacks by militants in Srinagar and Pampore.
On Monday last, unknown persons targeted the houses of two ruling National Conference workers with petrol bombs and set ablaze scooter of a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) worker in Jamallata area of downtown. Earlier, militants had carried a broad daylight attack at the house of a NC youth leader in Khrew area of Pampore killing two policemen. The two militants were later killed in a fierce gun-battle with forces.
“It’s a known fact that pro-freedom groups, especially Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat faction, have a strong grip over downtown. And organizing a rally or roadshow will be inviting trouble. This is the risk; I’m not ready to take. The youth will lynch us. There is fear psychosis among workers after recent attacks,” a Lal Bazaar youth, who has been associated with NC for over seven years, told Kashmir Reader on the condition of anonymity.
Not just NC cadres, but the workers of their alliance partner Congress also share the same views.
“I don’t deny threat perception to our leaders and party workers. I have security cover but our grass root activists don’t have it. So, obviously they get scared whenever incidents of stone pelting or encounters take place in Srinagar. We also get scared due to these gunfights,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad, a youth Congress leader from Eidgah.
He said that posters put up by pro-freedom groups or militant outfits also scare the party workers. “These posters and threats are also aimed to scare the voters. Even then, we have been able to hold rallies and public meetings in Eidgah, Noorbagh, Safa Kadal and other places. We’re planning to organize a big rally in downtown,” he added.
Employees’ union leader-turned-politician, Khurshid Alam, who hails from downtown and recently joined the PDP, blamed NC for creating scare among the PDP workers “by carrying out attacks against them”. He also referred to the arrest of four NC activists, including siblings, who attacked a vehicle carrying PDP campaigners.
When asked why PDP has not organized any rally for its Lok Sabha candidate Tariq Hamid Karra who will take on the NC patron Farooq Abdullah, Alam said the party workers and leaders were conducting regular public meetings in downtown.
“Our workers are not scared of campaigning. We have had public meetings at party headquarters, gardens and halls of the downtown,” he claimed. “NC is attacking our workers under the garb of poll boycott campaign launched by pro-freedom groups. Boycott has also suited NC. And this time too, they want to leave no stone unturned to scare our workers,” he added.