Separatists appeal people to boycott panchayat polls in JK

Separatists today appealed people to boycott the upcoming panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir, 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 boycott of these elections will deliver a message that Kashmiris want freedom from Indian occupation, and that they will accept nothing less than freedom and right to self determination.

"India and its stooges repeatedly stage this election drama to hoodwink international community, and pro-India parties and their leaders try to lure people in the name of roads, unemployment and other sugar-coated things," the separatists said in a joint statement under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL).

"Soon (after) this election drama is over, these hypocrites, their masters in Delhi and media, declare this vote as a vote for India and use this farce to camouflage atrocities and human rights abuses in Kashmir," they said.

The separatists said any sort of election under this system -- be it for "so-called assembly, Parliament, municipal committee or panchayat"-- is meant only to "harm the interests of Kashmiris .

"We appeal people of Kashmir to boycott panchayat election drama announced by the so-called rulers," they said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday said it would hold panchayat elections from Feburary 15 next year.

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