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National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah today expressed concern about the security situation in the Valley and urged the state government to tackle the "shadow of fear" looming over the forthcoming panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The government had the right to hold panchayat polls, but it had to also ensure the safety of the people, he said. "It is the prerogative of the government to conduct panchayat elections, but it is also the responsibility of the same government to protect its citizens and safeguard their lives, Abdullah said while addressing party workers here. He expressed concern over the shadows of fear and intimidation" in the run-up to panchayat election, slated to be held next month.
Some militants groups have threatened to grievously harm candidates. The NC president said such threats should be taken seriously by the state government. These alarming threats should be taken seriously by the state government and, before any decisions are taken, the security situation in the state should be taken into account," he said. The Lok Sabha member from Srinagar also underlined the alienation of the Valley's youth, who, he said, were being drawn towards armed militancy. With every passing day we are witnessing educated young men taking the path of armed militancy in a trend which threatens to take the state back to the throes of turmoil and uncertainty that we witnessed in the early '90s, he said. In the past three years, people had witnessed "one ideological compromise after another" by those in power, which, he held, had a direct and adverse impact on the youth. "The security scenario in the Valley is a matter of serious concern and underlines the political vacuum that has resulted in accentuating the alienation on the ground, especially among the youth," Abdullah said. The "rhetoric of reconciliation" was of little use in view of the the growing disenchantment and disillusionment among the youth, he added. "The youth deserve more than the occasional rhetorical statement or press note, he said. The opposition leader added that the Central and state governments had to realise the "unimaginable consequences of allowing the atmosphere of disenchantment to persist in the Valley". Abdullah alleged that the PDP-BJP government had failed to wean the youth away from isolation because of "ideological U-turns and contradictions". It is the onerous responsibility of the state government to reach out to the youth and bring the Valley back to the path of stability and peace," he said. But, he alleged, the state government continued to alienate the people- through its "complete governance failures or numerous political compromises and U-turns". Reiterating the need for a sustained, structured and result-oriented dialogue between India and Pakistan over all outstanding issues including Kashmir, he said there was no alternative to dialogue. Seeking a dialogue with Pakistan is a matter of realism and is based on our aspiration to see an end to instability, violence, death and destruction in Jammu and Kashmir. "We have always sought dialogue both on the internal and external fronts," he said. New Delhi and Islamabad needed to restore the "credibility and sanctity of the institution of dialogue" and stakeholders within the state should also be taken on board to make the process meaningful, he said.
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