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Raj Bhawan fax machine opens new battleground in J-K

A Raj Bhawan fax machine opened a new battleground in Jammu and Kashmir, with the NC Thursday alleging democracy was "scuttled" as it was not functioning, even as Governor Satya Pal Malik said the fax-operator was unavailable on Eid-i-Milad-un-Nabi, a state holiday.

Letters to stake claim to form government by the PDP and a two-member party, People's Conference, allegedly failed to reach the governor Wednesday, apparently because the machine was not operational

The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP is being supported by the National Conference (NC) and the Congress, while People's Conference claimed support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties.

However, their bids to form government were cut short after Malik dissolved the state assembly Wednesday night.

In a sarcastic remark, NC leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said, "This is the first time that a fax machine has scuttled democracy."

"This fax machine is strange, just like the traffic management in Srinagar, one way only. This machine stops working on one sign, and starts working on next sign. Only outgoing fax, no incoming fax. This fax machine needs to be investigated," he told reporters in Srinagar.

Taking a dig at the Raj Bhawan on the issue, PDP chief Mehbooba, "Have been trying to send this letter to Rajbhavan. Strangely the fax is not received. Tried to contact HE Governor on phone. Not available. Hope you see it @jandkgovernor".

However, Governor Malik, said they should have known offices are closed on Eid day, the PDP should have sent a man with the letter.

"Both of them (Mehbooba and Omar) are devote Muslims. They should know the offices are closed on Eid day. Even my cook was in the house, leave aside the fax operator. There was no system", he said countering the allegations at a press conference here.

"It is matter of bhanabazi. Even if they would have come (to deliver letter), it was my stand, what I did", Malik said.

Defending his decision to dissolve the assembly, the governor claimed "extensive horse-trading" was going on and it would have been impossible for parties with "opposing political ideologies" to form a stable government.