Gunfight further dampens poll campaign in Shopian, Pulwama

Gunfight further dampens poll campaign in Shopian, Pulwama

Pulwama: The already subdued election mood here in Pulwama and Shopian districts has further been dampened by Friday’s gunfight in which three local Hizb militants were killed. Popular militant Lateef Ahmad Dar alias Tiger was among the militants killed in the gunfight that took place in Imam Sahib area of Shopian district.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed across Pulwama and Shopian districts on Friday and again on Saturday, hampering whatever little political activity that was going on in the twin districts.
The two districts are scheduled to vote for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat on May 6. The election campaign in these districts has been a restrained one, with extreme caution being taken by political parties with their activities. Election meetings have been held at secure places like party offices in Pulwama and the government circuit house in Shopian district.
“In fact, there has been no other political activity here in Shopian,” a local source from Shopian district told Kashmir Reader.
With Friday’s gunfight witnessing clashes and protests, followed by a complete shutdown, there has been no campaign activity in Shopian district since.
On Saturday, security agencies did not allow political parties to hold any activity in Shopian district.
“We had a workers’ meet lined up in Shopian today but we were not given the necessary security clearance by the authorities,” a party insider in the Congress told Kashmir Reader.
He said he hoped that the party will be able to hold a meeting on Sunday in Shopian as well as in Pulwama district.
In Pulwama district, even though National Conference (NC) held a workers’ meet at the party office, the overall mood remained dampened given the fact that Lateef Tiger hailed from Dogripora area of the district.
Political watchers in south Kashmir predict that the killing of the three militants and the subsequent law and order situation will further reduce the polling percentage, already likely to be very low, on May 6.
“Let’s take the example of Imam Sahib area, which has traditionally voted well. However, now that the encounter is fresh and there have been many injuries to locals during the encounter, the voters are going to think twice before coming out to vote,” a political analyst said.
Similarly, he added, in areas like Doripora – where Tiger had his home – and the other two villages in Shopian district of which slain militants Tariq Molvi and Shariq Nengroo were natives, people will be very reluctant to vote now.
“There were massive funerals held of all the three militants in their villages. I think these villages will now stay out of voting. Even those who had intended to vote will avoid the election,” the political analyst told Kashmir Reader.
The police, however, are maintaining that the gunfight will have little bearing on the poll percentage.
“What matters at the end are the security arrangements in these areas and they are well in place for the May 6 polling,” a senior police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Apart from the security arrangements, the authorities have also shifted some poling centers from some sensitive areas in both Pulwama and Shopian districts, and merged them with other nearby polling stations.
The speculation and analysis apart, it will be interesting to see how things pan out on May 6.