Militants have turned the heat on for the poll boycott hours ahead of the first phase of the elections in the Kashmir valley.
Dreaded Hizbul Mujahideen has put up posters in Tral area warning people and Panchayat members against participating in the election, sparking a fresh wave of fear among residents in the south Kashmir township. Tral is a part of Anantnag Parliamentary constituency, which is going to polls on April 24.
The posters appeared a day after militants assassinated three people, including a Congress sarpanch, in two different villages of Tral area on Monday evening. The precarious security situation also prompted the jittery Congress to cancel the rally of Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Tral.
"Thousands of people have laid down their lives for the sake of Islam. It is the time when you should renew your pledge to evict India from our sacred land. The first step towards this goal is to boycott
polls. Therefore it is our request to everyone to stay away from the polls," reads the Hizbul's poster in Urdu.
Hizbul Mujahideen also warned the people against joining the election rallies of the mainstream political parties. "We request people not to join or go near any election rally. Particularly the panches and sarpanches are asked to mend their ways and stop their activities forthwith. Otherwise they should remain ready for the consequences," add the posters.
The renewed violence and threats have triggered a chain reaction with several panchayat members announcing their resignation apparently to save themselves from the wrath of militants.
"I Sardar Joginder Singh do hereby announce my resignation from the post of Sarpanch of Gulshanpora Tral. Neither I was nor I will be affiliated with any political party," read the English translation of the resignation letter of the one of the sarpanches.
The fresh spate of killings has also triggered a war of words between ruling National Conference and main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP). "The cold blooded murder of Ghulam Nabi Mir, Firdous Ahmad Mir and Mohammad Anwar last evening at Tral represents another failure of Omar Abdullah government which instead of providing an atmosphere of security is contributing to creation of scare to keep voters away from polling booths," said Mehbooba Mufti, president of PDP.
Condemning the attack, Omar said the use of violence is an acceptance of the weakness of your (ultras) argument. "The decision to boycott should be based on conviction, not fear. We don't terrorize people to vote so why instill fear to enforce boycott... The use of violence is an acceptance of the weakness of your argument because you know that in the absence of fear people will vote," he tweeted.