Controversy erupts as police orders rescheduling of political activities in Sopore

SRINAGAR — A senior police officer’s order seeking the rescheduling of political activities in north Kashmir’s Sopore has sparked a controversy with the National Conference accusing the UT administration of bias and obstructing a fair electoral process.

Sopore falls within the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency that will go to polls on May 20 in the fifth phase of the seven phase parliamentary polls. NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is contesting the seat.

On May 8, the office of Senior Superintendent of Police in Sopore, Divya D, issued an official directive to the additional district magistrate, outlining the rescheduling of various political activities in the area.

The order specified the postponement of a car rally from May 9 to May 18, and the rescheduling of a political rally in Rafiabad from May 10 to May 18, while no new date was provided for a May 12 gathering in Behrampora — all of which would see the participation of Abdullah, who has been actively campaigning in the region.

While campaigning for the Lok Sabha seat is scheduled to end at 5 pm on May 18, the NC is planning to move the Election Commission to seek its intervention.

The order also mentioned the cancellation of a People’s Conference rally in Rafiabad, to be addressed by local party workers.

Sajad Lone, who is the chief of a faction of the People’s Conference, is contesting from Baramulla. Another faction of the party is led by his brother Bilal Lone, who is a part of the moderate separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference.

The rescheduling directive did not cite specific reasons, but sources familiar with the situation indicated that it was due to the ongoing cordon and search operations following intelligence reports of foreign militants being present in the region.

Tanvir Sadiq, the chief spokesperson of the NC, condemned the administration for allegedly hindering a level playing field for party vice president Abdullah in the Baramulla constituency.

Sadiq, speaking from the party headquarters in Srinagar, said the rescheduling of Abdullah’s programmes was unfair and urged the EC to intervene.

He emphasised the importance of providing equal political space to the NC and asked the authorities to allow the party to conduct their rallies without any hindrances while seeking fairness and transparency in the electoral process. — (PTI)