Srinagar: Former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that instead of threatening people, the government should conduct counseling of those who rally towards gunfight sites to help militants escape.
“The government should deal with the people who disrupt security operations by counseling them rather than threatening them,” Omar told reporters in Srinagar.
Referring to the army chief’s threat that people who disrupt counter-insurgency operations will face tough action, Omar said that more people have been coming to the help of militants ever since General Bipin Rawat issued his warning.
“After the army chief warned protesters and called then anti-national, more people have come out of their home and marched towards encounter sites. By threatening and warning people, the issue cannot be addressed,” he said, adding, “The government should acknowledge the sentiments of people and take measure to address them.”
Omar accused the government of withdrawing the security cover provided to the leaders of his party.
The former chief minister made the accusation a day after suspected militants killed a former NC sarpanch in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
“The government decreased security cover of my colleagues instead of increasing it, at a time when the threat to their safety is growing,” Omar added. He said that the election commission should ensure security for all candidates and campaigners for the upcoming Lok Sabha by-polls in Srinagar and Anantnag.
“The election commission is expecting us to fight elections in circumstances when there is a security threat. They should ensure that the environment is favourable for elections,” he said.
Omar raised this concern after suspected militants killed former NC sarpanch Fayaz Ahmad in Kakapora village of Pulwama after abducting him from his residence on Monday. His bullet-ridden body was later found in the nearby village of Chaw Kalan.
Reacting to Omar’s remarks, Waheed-ur-Rahman Para of the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) said that Omar cannot run away from the responsibility of fighting elections.
“There is always a security threat in Kashmir and the National Conference has fought elections in the year 1996, when the security concerns were highest,” Para said.
While condemning the killing of the former NC sarpanch by militants, Para said that everyone couldn’t be provided security in Kashmir. “There are more than 35,000 former sarpanches. The evaluation is done on the security threat perception,” he pointed out.
Para added that holding elections was the only way to end violence in the state.
“In the upcoming elections we will show the mirror to the National Conference — that they have completely lost ground in the Valley,” the PDP leader said.
By-polls for the Lok Sabha seats of Srinagar and Anantnag are scheduled on April 9 and April 12, respectively.