Monday, July 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Jamaat not to give poll boycott call

Srinagar, June 30
In a significant development, the Jamaat-e-Islami, a dominant constituent of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, has said it will not issue any call for boycotting the coming Assembly polls and hinted that it might participate in the democratic exercise in future.

“Life is like a changing ocean, anything can happen in future but right now we have no plans of participating in the polls,” Jamaat chief Ghulam Mohammad Bhat told a local daily.

“But at the same time, we will not launch a poll boycott campaign (as it would be) an unlawful act,” he said.

Alleging that elections in the state were never free and fair, he said “Now the Government of India is repeatedly assuring that these (elections) will be fair. Let us see how it actually is translated on ground.”

Asked about jailed Jamaat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s anti-election campaigns in 1996 and 1999, Bhat said the organisation believed in democracy. “The Jamaat does not believe in forcing things. There is no compulsion in religion,” he said.

He denied the Jamaat had any links with militants, particularly the Hizbul Mujahideen, till recently known as armed wing of the group.

“I do not want to talk about militants. I want to make it loud and clear that we have no connection with militants or militancy,” Bhat said. However, he admitted that Hizbul leader Syed Salahuddin was a one-time district chief of the Jamaat.

“All activities must be lawful and overground and no underground activity should be allowed,” he said.

Bhat also denied that his group supported Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan.

“There is no mention of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan in our constitution. Leave aside the constitution, we did not even pass a resolution demanding accession,” he said. UNI, PTI

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