Was Anil Parihar killed by Islamists in Retaliation to the BJP’s Great Performance in the J&K Municipal Polls?
The participation of people in the civic body polls, despite the threat from terrorists and boycott call from regional parties, and BJP’s great performance has perhaps now triggered an Islamist backlash in Jammu
Senior BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar were shot dead by unidentified gunmen, in a suspected terror attack, at Kishtwar town on November 1 evening. Anil Parihar was secretary of the state BJP and one of the senior leaders of the party.
BJP leader Anil Parihar was shot dead by unidentified gunmen
The incident took place at Tappal Gali near Veterinary Hospital in Kishtwar at 9.10 pm. After the killings, tension flared up in communally-sensitive Kishtwar town. Hundreds of people gathered outside the Kishtwar hospital. Section 144 has been imposed in the district.
Why there is a sudden outburst of a terror attack in Jammu? Why the infectious crime of valley is now ready to be contagious in the peaceful Jammu side of the State. Maybe the leads of democratic surge in the recently held Municipal Council election explain the crisis.
New Message Received
The victory of Meera, a Dalit girl, as councillor of Kathua Municipal Council is an indication that the just concluded civic body elections in J&K have served the purpose for which these polls were conducted despite threats of terrorists and boycott call by two Kashmir centric parties-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC).
Meera, a Dalit girl (centre), as councilor of Kathua Municipal Council posing after victory
Meera is an example how the Civic Body Elections have politically empowered marginalised and neglected lot of the society. Living in abject poverty, Meera was convinced by the locals to contest elections, and she emerged victoriously.
Meera, who became eligible for contesting the Civic Bodies Elections a couple of months ago, won the elections as an Independent from Ward No. 1 of the Kathua Municipal Council. Coming from a social and economically weaker background, Meera could not pursue higher education.
“People of my locality asked me to contest the elections despite my poor financial condition,” she told media after her victory, adding, “It was all due to the support of people that I joined the electoral battle and emerged victoriously.”
Aiming to make a difference, Meera said she wanted to give a message that a girl from a low-income family can bring a change in the society. “I will work with dedication and commitment to bring a positive change in the society,” she said.
Meera is not the only example, there is some candidates, who belong to financially poor and backward class and have emerged victorious. The successful conduct of the civic polls in J&K has been one of the significant achievements of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre. These elections attached importance in a sense PDP and NC, as part of their blackmail politics, had announced to boycott elections. It has also been a victory for the people of the State who have decided to ignore the threat by terrorist organisations not to participate in the elections. The civic elections were held after a lapse of 13 years. The successive state Governments had repeatedly announced to conduct civic bodies but due to political compulsions elections could not be conducted.
Terror Outfits Had Called for Boycott
Following the announcement of civic elections this year, the terror organisations in the State warned people not to take part in the polls. The Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) put up posters with warnings in several villages. Several outfits, including the Syed Ali Shah Geelani, led All Parties Hurriyat Conference came out with a boycott call. Joining Geelani were the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, the Democratic Freedom Party and the United Jihad Council. The JKLF Chief Yasin Malik and the Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabbir Shah led processions asking people not to cast their vote. The Kashmir Bar Association and the Jamiat-e-Islami joined in the anti-poll campaign. Initially, PDP and NC had welcomed the announcement of civic bodies elections but due to politics of “competitive separatism” both the parties announced to boycott elections to keep anti-national forces in good humour.
BJP workers celebrate party's victory in urban local body polls of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar
Just a week before the announcement of the Civic Bodies Polls, NC leader and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had supported the move to hold civic bodies and Panchayat elections. Same was the stand of PDP because Mehbooba Mufti was in Jammu before the announcement of Civic Body Elections to finalise candidates but both the parties later announced to boycott the polls to appease Hurriyat and terror groups.
Interestingly both the parties have attached issue of Article 35A with civic body elections to befool the innocent masses of Kashmir. A week before the announcement of Civic Body Elections, both NC and PDP had participated in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil elections. A group within Congress was also opposed to joining the electoral battle, but ultimately the party joined election battle.
What was significant was that the voters’ participation had crossed 8.2 per cent in Srinagar as compared to three per cent in the Lok Sabha bye-elections won by Dr Farooq Abdullah. In Jammu, the Congress could win only 15 seats in the -75 member Municipal Corporation. BJP has created history by winning 43 seats and attained majority.
Rising BJP Has Threatened Militants
The State of J&K has demonstrated that it is possible to implement the democratic process in difficult conditions. One hopes that enough funds will be provided to the local bodies and they will be free to function efficiently. In the final analysis, People of J&K will give the most effective answer to the terrorists. The civic elections are a demonstration of the democratic process and the assertion of the right to elect their representatives by the people. It is worthwhile recalling that militancy started in the State in the late eighties, following perceived manipulation of Assembly elections. With re-assertion of the free electoral process and effective functioning of representative democracy, people of Jammu and Kashmir will give the most effective answer to militants and terrorists. 2018 will then go down as a watershed in J&K.
Out of the total, 1145 wards across the State elections were held on 716 wards as 244 candidates were elected unopposed and there was no candidate on 185 wards. BJP has won 312 wards while Congress managed to win 267 wards across J&K.
BJP won 12 civic bodies including prestigious Jammu Municipal Corporation in Jammu province and six municipalities in Kashmir Valley namely Shopian, Devsar, Mattan, Pahalgam, Qazigund and Watergam in Kashmir Valley. Congress got a majority in only three Municipalities namely Jourian, Thanamandi and Banihal in Jammu province. Out of total 521 wards in Jammu province, BJP won 212, Independents 185, Congress 110 and Panthers Party 13. Giving figures of all four phases of the elections, official records revealed the first phase of polling for civic bodies on October 8 recorded 65 per cent voter turnout in Jammu division and 62.1 per cent in Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh region. The Valley, however, saw meagre 8.2 per cent electorates casting their votes that day. Polling in Ladakh region was completed in the first phase itself. The total percentage was 56.7.