Elections to be most free and fair: Azad

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the forthcoming elections in the state would be the most free and fair and invited all political parties to join the fray. He said those who were afraid of fighting elections use the pretext that if might not be free and fair.

Addressing a public meeting, the Chief Minister said in democracy, people and not foreign countries, are the real deciders of political fate. He said leaders and political parties who had faith in people participate in elections but those who do not belive in people's power look towards other countries. ''The USA, UK, China or Pakistan are not going to decide our destiny'', the Chief Minister said, adding that it were the people of Jammu and Kashmir who would decide the political fate of the State.

He said people would find solution to their problems and not bank upon advice others. The Chief Minister promised free and fair elections to the State assembly scheduled later this year and said nobody should have any apprehensions on this Account.

He recalled the by-elections of 2006 held during his tenure and said that not a single political leader or party had complained of any irregularities.

He said he had warned officials deployed on election duty against any irregularity. More than 70 per cent voter turnover was recorded in these elections, he added.

Mr Azad expressed satisfaction over the improvement in the overall situation in the State.

He said the lowest ever killings were recorded last year during the past about 20 years. He said not a single case of custodial disappearance was reported in 2007 and this year so far, he added.

He said the fact that the people were fed up with violence and wanted peace to prevail besides strict actions taken against the erring security officials, contributed towards the improvement in the situation.

He assured the people that his government would not tolerate any human rights violation and said while strict action was taken against militants no excess against civilians would be countenanced.

UNI

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