Senior Jamaat leader urges Centre to lift ban, pledges to contest J&K elections

A senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), Ghulam Qadir Wani, has expressed that the outfit is ready to join electoral politics if the Centre lifts its ban on them, and he has called upon its supporters to cast their ballots in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

The JeI, which last participated in elections in Kashmir before the onset of militancy, has been banned since the Pulwama terror attack in 2019, with most of its leadership detained.

A press release on social media, purportedly from “the spokesman of Jamaat-e-Islami,” clarified that Wani’s statements were his personal opinions. Regarding Wani’s claims of the JeI holding talks with the Centre, the “spokesman” mentioned that a panel had been formed to run organizational affairs, and its members had met the Centre through another political outfit.

Wani, who voted on May 13 for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, reiterated in an interaction with select mediapersons that the JeI had never believed in boycott politics and had previously stayed away from polling because others did.

“If the ban on us is lifted, we can participate (in the elections) and we will participate,” Wani said. “We are in talks with the Centre. Our appeal to our members is that they should cast their vote and cast it without any fear.”

Calling the press release a work of “some miscreant,” Wani added: “Elections are in progress, we have participated in them. We told our members and those associated with us that casting a vote means to strengthen democracy. Democracy is important, it will solve issues. Voting will make a change, decent people will come forward, and society will improve.”

Reacting to Wani’s remarks, National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said the Centre should follow through and revoke the ban on the JeI to enable it to participate in the Assembly elections when they happen in J&K, PTI reported. “It is a good thing… We want them to participate in the elections and their symbol on the voting machine,” Omar told reporters after an election rally in the Tangmarg area of Baramulla.

A socio-religious party, the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir, is the only cadre-based party in the Valley after the NC. It was formed before Partition and is distinct from the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

Before 1990, it participated in several elections, with its leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani elected to the Assembly thrice. After the inception of militancy, the JeI became part of the Hurriyat Conference and dissociated from electoral politics, calling Kashmir a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.

In the following years, the Valley’s largest militant organization, Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed to be the military wing of the JeI, with several leaders common to the two. However, in 1997, after Ghulam Mohammad Bhat was elected as the JeI chief, he publicly dissociated the outfit from militancy. This led to a split in the organization, with Geelani forming his own party, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, drawing most of its cadres from the JeI.


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