J&K : Jitendra Singh downplays separatists call for boycott of JK local polls

JAMMU: Union minister Jitendra Singh today downplayed the separatists’ boycott call for the upcoming panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, saying they have never gone through the test of ballot and stand exposed for their duplicity.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office also said the nation had approved the ‘policy shift’ of giving befitting response to Pakistan for ceasefire violations.

Talking to reporters before a meeting of the state BJP here, he said, “The entire country should now realise that the separatists already stand exposed. The duplicity that they have exercised to put forward their political agenda, which is separatism by convenience and not by conviction, stand exposed particularly before the youth of Kashmir.”

He was responding to a question on the boycott call given by the separatist camp for the panchayat polls scheduled to start in February next year.

On December 28, separatists appealed people to boycott the panchayat polls, saying the central and state governments have been using such elections to hoodwink international community.

Separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said boycotting these elections will deliver a message that Kashmiris will accept nothing less than freedom and right to self-determination.

“By calling for a boycott of the polls, the separatists are only betraying their own insecurity and the lack of public support they are themselves now tactically acknowledging,” Singh said today.

On the reports of the army crossing into Pakistan- occupied Kashmir and neutralising a Border Action Team of the enemy, he said, “Unlike what was happening in the earlier decades, this is first time in the last 3-4 years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that there is a befitting response to each mischief of Pakistan.”

He added, “The entire nation has approved of this kind of approach and it is also being appreciated by the people of border areas whose morale is very high.”

On December 23, an army major and three jawans were killed when Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of the Jammu region. Two days later, three Pakistani soldiers were killed in retaliatory action by Indian troops. (agencies)