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Admin coercing elected DDC candidates to join Apni Party in Shopian: Omar

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“If these elections were victory of democracy, as claimed by PM, why the same democracy is being discredited”

Srinagar: National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said that UT administration, both police and civil, in collaboration with a particular party was trying to discredit democracy by coercing elected candidates of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) to join BJP’s proxy, Apni Party, in Shopian.

Addressing a press conference here, Omar accused the Apni Party, led by former PDP leader Altaf Bukhari, and the union territory administration of using coercive tactics to buy loyalties of newly elected DDC members.

“In case of Shopian district, some of the winners — from Congress, PDP and National Conference — are brought to Srinagar and coerced to join the Apni Party,” Omar told reporters at a press conference here.

An audio recording of a telephone conversation was played to buttress the claims made by the former chief minister in which the husband of a winning candidate from Shopian, belonging to the NC, is promised the release of his brother within three days if he makes his wife to “join Altaf Bukhari’s party”.

The woman DDC member, Yasmeena Jan, had joined the Apni Party on Friday.

He said that perhaps all this is being done to change the verdict of DDC elections. “The process has been started from Shopian where NC’s former MLC Showkat Ganai and senior NC leader Shabir Ahmed Kullay have been kept under detention for no reason,” he said, alleging that “perhaps the price of setting these leaders is to join the Apni Party.”

Omar said the BJP, the Apni Party and the administration should accept the verdict of the people in favour of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

“PAGD won most of the seats; why cannot the BJP, the Apni Party, the Centre and the administration accept it? The prime minister in a health-related function today spoke about DDC elections and democracy.

“Every BJP leader has been trumpeting that DDC elections were a victory of democracy… We want to tell them ‘stop playing with democracy’,” he added.

The NC vice-president alleged that at present, the efforts are focused on subverting the democratic verdict in Shopian district.

“Who knows where all it can lead if it is not stopped now,” he said.

“If this (horse-trading) is not stopped, I think democracy and institutions are being discredited. This is anything but democracy,” Omar added.

The NC leader said the anti-defection laws should be applied to all candidates who switch sides after the election results.

“There is an anti-defection law in parliament, assembly and panchayats, it should be applied to DDCs as well. Let those switching sides contest again and we will know who stands where.”

Asked about ‘friendly contests’ between PAGD constituents on several seats in the Valley, Omar said there were difficulties but by and large the alliance had succeeded in overcoming them.

Asked about the role of the Congress in seat-sharing, Omar said it was understood that the national party was a part of the alliance as it was one of the signatories to the original resolution on August 04, 2019.

“However, the Congress only wanted a seat-sharing agreement which was not acceptable to the alliance,” he said.

Asked about the future of the PAGD — an amalgam of various mainstream political parties demanding the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir — Omar said the alliance has a bigger mission ahead of it and will continue to pursue it.

“The DDC elections have shown that the majority of people do not accept the decisions taken on August 05, 2019. We have never claimed that all the people do not accept it but the majority does not,” he said.

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