8 candidates, 7 from BJP, in entire Sopore

8 candidates, 7 from BJP, in entire Sopore
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Video of local militant threatening candidates goes viral

Sopore: Just 8 candidates have filed nomination papers in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, where municipal polls are to be held on October 13. Of the eight candidates, 7 are from the BJP, which has zero base in the apple-rich township. There is a sole candidate standing as Independent. Sources told Kashmir Reader that two women candidates from the BJP have filed nomination papers.

A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Sopore, who did not wish to be named, told Kashmir Reader that he started his political career seven years ago. “My motive is to get development on track for the people of Sopore, who have been left neglected for the past couple of decades,” he said.

Sopore is the hometown of top separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani. Most people here are of the opinion that apart from security personnel, few will venture out on the streets on election day, let alone go to the voting booths.

The town has acquired a firm anti-establishment image over the years with minimal participation in both assembly and parliamentary elections. In the last parliamentary election held in 2014, Sopore registered the lowest turnout, at 1.08%.

In further disincentive to candidates and voters, a video of almost 2 minutes has gone viral on social media featuring local militant Suhail Akhoon, who is believed to be affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for the past one year. Akhoon is seen in the video threatening dire consequences to those who do not stay away from the elections. He has also warned candidates to withdraw their nominations within three days.

“Those people should announce their withdrawal of forms through social media and should apologise to the Kashmir nation within three days. If they will fail to do so, they will be responsible for their property and life,” Akhoon threatens in the video.

Akhoon aka Abu Huraira has reportedly been an active militant from November 2017 and has travelled to Pakistan on passport, where he has received militancy training. He is now district commander of LeT, sources in the police said.

When asked about the threatening video issued by the Lashkar militant, the BJP member replied, “These videos come during election time, we don’t take them seriously. It will not affect our participation in municipal polls.”

A sign of how the elections will go will come on October 8, when the first phase of the municipal polls will be held. Close to 40 candidates have filed nomination papers in Baramulla town (Sopore falls in Baramulla district) where municipal polls are to be held on October 8.