Srinagar, Sep 12 (UNI) Breakaway Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani today called for complete boycott of the next Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled to be held in September-October next year.
''In principle, we are not against democracy. Valid reasons and strong arguments are behind our boycott appeal. It is not a publicity stunt,'' he said in a statement here.
Mr Geelani claimed that India has been projecting the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in ''wrong perspective'' which had caused immense damage to the ''freedom struggle'' of the people.
The United Nations had made it abundantly clear that the state Legislative Assembly had no role in the resolution of the Kashmir issue, but India has always projected elections as a strong alternative to the plebiscite, he added.
''For several years, I have myself tried to make India understand and realise that the contentious and serious Kashmir issue can be resolved only through democratic means. But my 60 years of experience suggests otherwise. India is not ready to resolve the Kashmir issue in a democratic manner,'' Mr Geelani said.
The Hurriyat hardliner described the 1987 Assembly elections as a ''turning point'' in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. ''The people of Jammu and Kashmir then lost complete faith in the democratic exercise after 40 years of experience. They realised that their rights could not be ensured by these so-called elections,'' he said.
Mr Geelani alleged that the 1987 elections also bore testimony to the fact that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were being forced to cast their votes only for exhibition.
''The election is basically a nomination process by which New Delhi hands over the reins of power to a select few and also to some of its blue-eyed boys,'' he added.
The firebrand leader alleged that due to India's intransigence and obduracy the youth of Jammu and Kashmir took up arms as a result of which hundreds and thousands of people have got killed during the past 18 years.
''After all these sacrifices, if we go back to failed experiences it will be a futile and meaningless exercise and bound to cause huge damage to the ongoing freedom struggle,'' he claimed.
''Boycotting the elections is a right of every citizen in the same manner one has the right to vote. All the elections held in Jammu and Kashmir after 1996 have basically been Army operations in which the people were forced to cast their votes at gunpoint,'' the Hurriyat Chairman alleged.