“Won’t cast ballots in DDC polls”: Residents near LoC allege Army of restricting their movement outside village

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Located near Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, residents of Jabdi village of Karnah Tehsil on Tuesday expressed strong resentment against authorities and decided to boycott the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) election that is scheduled to be held from 28 November across J-K.

The residents alleged that since Article 370 was repealed, the local authorities left the village unattended and made the local population suffer badly, reported a local news agency, Kashmir News Service (KNS). They said the local administration is acting as a mute spectator over the sufferings of villagers who have been comprehensively handed over to the Army.

Residents said that the area is 30 kilometers away from Tehsil headquarter and inhabitants of the village cannot venture out to meet their requirements without valid permission from the local Brigade Commander. They said every family in the village has relatives residing in an adjoining area and whenever there is any function held at their homes, the relatives cannot move without the Army’s permission.

“We are stuck in an uncertain situation. If our relative dies or any wedding function to be held there, we remain unheard of the developments,” one of the locals told the agency.

A local wishing not to be named told the agency that the Army’s “permission is akin to VISA”. “Like Visa is must for travelling outside the country, it has become mandatory for us to obtain permission first from local Army officials”, he said.

He added since Article 370 was revoked, civil officials are also being barred from attending duties. “From last one year teachers who are deputed in nearby schools have been stopped from joining schools. It is the height of interference in the rights of an individual”, the local told the agency.

When asked about the status of basic ammonites in the village, the locals said that neither electricity nor drinking water supply is being provided to the village which has badly ruined the lives of villagers. He added locals are compelled to pay electricity and water bills regularly as they can’t argue when a village is covered with security establishments.

While venturing out in bone-chilling cold, the villagers on Tuesday protested and decided to boycott upcoming DDC polls. “We have no option to boycott the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) polls that a few days away now”, locals said.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kupwara Dr. Anshul Garg didn’t respond to the calls made by this office. However Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Karnah Dr. Bilal Mohi-ud-Din said that area is highly sensitive and next to the LoC, so there is a need to look after the movement of people. The official added that it is a normal procedure and whosoever wishes to travel from Kupwara to Karnah or vice-versa, has to seek permission first.

“If there is any lack of basic facilities in the village, he will look into the matter,” Dr. Bilal added. (KNS)

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