Banned Jamat-e-Islami Kashmir says ready to contest elections if ban lifted

MHA enforced the ban on JeI in 2019 following reading down of Article 370

Ghulam-Qadir-Wani JeI's panel head Ghulam Qadir Wani

In a significant development, the banned Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir expressed its readiness to participate in elections should the Centre lift the ban imposed on it.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) enforced the ban on JeI in 2019 following the reading down of Article 370, calling the organisation "anti-national."

Speaking to reporters, JeI's panel head Ghulam Qadir Wani of Gussu, Pulwama, said JeI members had participated in the recent Lok Sabha polls, with Wani himself seen casting his vote in the May 13 polls for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

"We will endeavor to contest the upcoming assembly polls scheduled for September this year," Wani said, even as he emphasised a longstanding belief in the democratic process.

"We will nominate our candidates if Centre rescinds the ban on us,’’ he said.

“While there are other issues, the revocation of the ban is our primary condition to engage in the electoral process."

He outlined socio-religious reforms as a focal point of JeI's electoral agenda, alongside addressing issues such as drug abuse and increasing moral degradation.

Wani disclosed that a pivotal session of JeI's Majlis-e Shoora (decision-making body) had taken place, resulting in the decision to contest elections. "Our commitment to democracy remains unwavering," he said.

Responding to questions regarding JeI members boycotting polls in the past, he explained that the decision was influenced by external pressures and threats. "When nobody voted, JeI followed suit," he clarified.

The JeI’s willingness to contest elections will have a huge impact on Kashmir’s political landscape. The outfit was a part of the pro-separatist coalition Muslim Mutahida Mahaz (Muslim United Front or MUF) that participated in the 1987 elections against the National Conference(NC).

The election was rigged and NC was declared winner.

The rigging created huge resentment among the young supporters of MUF which manifested in militancy a year later. In the early 90s, MUF leader Peer Muhammad Yousuf crossed the LoC and went on to lead the HM as Salahuddin.

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