Srinagar, Sep 17 (PTI) The separatist groups appealed to the people on Monday to boycott the upcoming panchayat and urban local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
     Under the banner of the Joint Resistance Leaders (JRL), comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, the separatists said in a statement that any electoral process was not a substitute to the "right to self-determination".
     They appealed to the "freedom-loving people" of Kashmir to observe a complete boycott. "The election drama is a political gimmick to hoodwink the international community that the people of Kashmir enjoy Indian democracy freely," the statement said.
     They claimed that the elections were a "bait" to lure the pro-India politicians to act as "agents to change the demography and state subject law of the state".
     The urban local body elections will be conducted in four phases starting October 8, whereas the panchayat polls will be held in nine-phases from November 17.
     The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have decided to boycott the polls until the Centre gave an assurance to protect Article 35A, against which a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court. The article confers special status to the permanent residents of the state.

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