Anantnag: Despite utmost care taken by the authorities to protect the identities of candidates in elections to municipal bodies, lists of these candidates in at least two municipal constituencies in Anantnag district have been compromised and circulated over social media.
The police, acting promptly, have moved these candidates to “safer locations”, away from their own localities.
The lists that have been compromised belong to the Aishmuqam and Dooru municipalities in Anantnag district.
A senior police official from the district acknowledged that the candidates have been moved to safer places.
“It won’t be possible, for now, to provide security on an individual basis to them. So we have moved them to safer, secure locations,” the police official said.
Candidates’ lives are at risk in wake of threats issued by militants to people who participate in these polls.
“We have already got barrels of acid and we will blind those people who participate in these elections, so that they know the pain of our pellet-blinded youth,” said Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo said in an audio message some weeks ago.
The threats have already had a bearing on the polls: only a minuscule number of candidates have filed nominations, especially in south Kashmir. Most of the candidates are migrant Kashmiri Pandits who no longer live in the areas they are contesting from, but there are some locals who have taken the risk and jumped into the fray.
As a result of the low number of candidates, polls will be held in only four of the 20 municipal constituencies where voting is scheduled on October 13.
The candidates, meanwhile, remain worried about their safety despite being moved to safer locations.
“They have, for now, moved us to protected locations. But what after the polls are held? What will happen to us after that? Will we be protected or left to ourselves?” asked a candidate with whom Kashmir Reader talked to.
The candidate said he has been relocated to the government housing colony in Khannabal.
“But the fact is that we are braving threats to our life and a social stigma has been attached to us. But we want to do something for the people,” the candidate said.
The government, on its part, seems to be concerned only with the formality of conducting the polls. What happens after the polls remains to be seen.