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Jamaat breaks up with separatism, ready to contest assembly polls if Centre lifts ban

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We never issued boycott call in the past, we stayed away as there were threats and people were not voting: JeI Panel Head

Srinagar: Spearheading the separatist politics from early 1990 till it was banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Government of India, Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir today affirmed its faith in Indian democracy saying, it would contest forthcoming Assembly elections if the Centre lifts ban on its activities.

The banned party also rebutted the allegations that it has been boycotting elections here for past more than three decades.

Former chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir and its Panel Head, Ghulam Qadir Wani Wednesday said his organisation will participate in assembly elections if the Centre revokes the ban imposed on the outfit in 2019.

“Let those who allege that Jamaat boycotted elections come up with some evidence. We never called for a boycott. When nobody voted, JeI followed suit. There was a pressure and threat as well,” he said.

“We are holding talks with the Centre. We want to get our ban removed and we want to play our role in society. If the ban is removed, we may take part in the elections,” Wani told reporters in Pulwama, 32 kilometres from here.

Wani, who cast his vote during polling for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency on Monday, said his organisation believes in the democratic process and has taken part in elections in the past as well.

“We will take part (in the assembly elections) because we have faith in the democratic process. We will have to take part as we used to do earlier as well,” Wani added.

“However, we face challenges such as frozen assets, which need resolution for us to nominate candidates,” he added.

He admitted that there have been significant changes for the better post-abrogation of Article 370.

When asked what would be the main focus of his party’s election campaign, if it decides to contest, He said: “Our focus would be on socio-religious reforms, combating drugs, and eradicating corruption”.

Taking a dig at the National Conference, he said, “We’ve witnessed the consequences of NC’s policies on the people, and our goal is to collaborate with those dedicated to serving the populace”.

The organisation has not participated in any election since 1987.

The former Ameer-e-Jamaat (leader of the party) was reacting to a letter doing rounds on social media with claims that the Majlis-e-Shoora of the Jamaat had not sanctioned participation in the elections.

“We participated in the (Lok Sabha) elections and told our workers to vote freely for strengthening the democracy as democracy can lead to resolution of problems. According to our (party) constitution, this is a necessary thing. Some miscreants have written somewhere that (Majlis) Shoora (consultative council) has not approved it. Only he knows what the motive behind this letter is! We are rebutting it and making our position clear. The Shoora is with us,” he said.

Asked about his message to Jamaat workers in the areas going to polls in later phases of the Lok Sabha elections, Wani said change can only be brought through voting.

“We can bring the change through voting. If good people come forward, then society will develop and issues will be resolved. These mafias like drug mafia will be eradicated. My appeal to workers is to vote without fear,” he added.

The Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir was banned by the Centre for five years in February 2019 for “unlawful association” and for activities “prejudicial to internal security and public order”. The ban was extended for a period of five more years in February 2024.

Under the influence of hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Jamaat was a key player in the formation of the separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference in 1993. Although Jamaat was formed as a religious organisation working in the area of education, it was seen as the political arm of Hizbul Mujahideen.

Photo: Farooq Javed/Kashmir Images

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