In an attempt to counter the militant threat against upcoming municipal and panchayat elections, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to provide an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh to every candidate contesting the polls
''We are going to provide an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh to every candidate,'' J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik told THE WEEK in an exclusive interview. ''We will provide the candidates with security also.''
Malik said if the candidates were feeling insecure at their place of residence, the government will shift them to a safer location
''We will arrange their stay at a safe place if they want to,'' Malik said.
He said the government was determined to hold the polls. ''We will hold the elections in the best possible way. There's nothing to fear.''
Militants, especially the Hizbul Mujahideen, have warned to punish any person who stands for municipal and panchayat elections in October and November. The Hizbul has warned that it will burn the candidates with acid.
Suspected militants have burnt three Panchayat ghars (offices) in south Kashmir in the last three days triggering fears among potential candidates.
Key parties like the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and smaller parties like the CPI(M) have called for a boycott of the polls over Article 35 A row .
The NC and the PDP have demanded that the Centre clear its stand in the case on Article 35 A in the Supreme Court.
Farooq Abdullah, the NC president and MP, on September 5 said the party will boycott not only the civic polls but also Lok Sabha and Assembly elections if the Centre doesn't clear its stand on Article 35A and Article 370.
''We are not running away from elections, but first they should do justice to us,'' he said. ''When you do justice to us, we will come forward.''
The PDP followed the suit. Its president, Mehbooba Mufti, after chairing a meeting of the party MLAs on September 11, said: ''“The situation created by linking panchayat polls with the case pending in Supreme Court on Article 35 A has created apprehension in the minds of the people, who see it as an assault on the special constitutional position of the state… It was unanimously resolved that the party would stay away from the electoral exercise at this juncture.”
The municipal polls, which were last held in 2005, will be held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16. Counting will be held on October 20. The poll process will be over by October 27. The panchayat polls will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29 and December 1, 4, 8 and 11. The elections will be held using ballot papers and the counting will take place on the same day.