This Article is From Apr 23, 2017

Asked Who Is In Charge Of Kashmir, Ruling Party Official Says 'Can't Answer That'

The General Secretary of the Pulwama wing of PDP, says political workers are "quivering with fear."


  • In Anantnag's Pulwama, political workers have gone into hiding
  • On streets, there is little evidence of the upcoming elections in 4 weeks
  • Anantnag by-elections were postponed after violence in Srinagar by-polls
Pulwama: Drive into the deserted streets of Pulwama in south Kashmir, and there is little evidence that it will go to elections in four weeks. Pulwama falls in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, the bastion of the family of Mehbooba Mufti, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. By-elections to Anantnag were postponed after by-polls in Srinagar were marred by violence, deaths, and low turnout.

But it is unlikely how voting in Anantnag - if it takes place - will be any different. Political workers, the basic unit of any election activity, are in hiding. 

The reason is not so hard to fathom. A widely shared recent video shows a worker of the People's Democratic Party, Jammu and Kashmir's ruling party, forced to utter anti-India slogans at gunpoint

After calling around, we find a cluster of political workers taking refuge in a local government housing colony. 

Sitting in plastic chair in the main courtyard, Ghulam Nabi Patel, the General Secretary of the Pulwama wing of the PDP, says they are "quivering with fear."

When we asked him whose writ runs in Jammu and Kashmir, he says he cannot answer that question. 

"These days?" he asked, lapsing into silence. 

"I can tell you personally on the promise to not show it on the media. Showing it on the media will increase threat to my life," he said.  

"Read the answer in my silence," he said. 

Shabbir Ahmed Bhatt, President of the BJP's Pulwama wing, changes location three times before meeting us at an unused office of the National Conference. Precautionary measures, it appears, has briefly dissolved party differences. 

He tells us there have been two attempts on his life - one at home, and another time when he was kidnapped by terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He managed to escape by jumping out of the car. 

Members of opposition parties are not spared either. Javed Bhatt, a youth wing leader of National Conference, says he has not been home for several weeks, moving locations every few days. 

Shabbir Bhatt of the BJP tells us he is undeterred in his support of the party, but that the threat of violence first pushed the campaign underground, and now has brought it to a grinding halt. 

The Superintendent of Police of Pulwama told NDTV that the threat to political workers has been amplified by social media. 

But these are not empty threats. Just a week ago, two political workers - one of the PDP, the other of the National Conference, were killed in the same region.