SRINAGR: Almost all major political parties fighting ongoing Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir have candidates with criminal background in their ranks, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a New Delhi-based election watchdog.
Out of the 831 candidates in the fray—the fifth and last phase of the elections is taking place on December 20—49 candidates have declared their criminal background, with 32 of them having serious criminal cases like from murder, kidnapping and robbery.
The Congress, which had fielded 86 candidates, has the highest number of people with criminal background—9. Fifty-five percent of them fall in the serious criminal category, said the ADR.
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) has six candidates out of the 60 with criminal background, and 80 percent of them are involved in serious criminal cases.
The ruling National Conference and its bête-noire People’s Democratic Party share equal number of candidates—5—belonging to the serious criminal background category, according to the ADR.
Independents too figure in the ‘criminal’ list. Fourteen of the 273 people who are contesting the elections as Independents have criminal backgrounds.
The BJP has four candidates with criminal background while other parties have seven such people in their ranks.
According to ADR’s website, the candidates with cases related to attempt to murder include Basharat Hussain Najar of JKDNP (contesting from Pattan constituency); Tariq Ahmad Ahanger, Independent candidate from Shopian constituency; and Yash Pal of JKNPP from Nowshera constituency.
A case of kidnapping has been declared by Balwant Singh Mankotia, JKNPP’s candidate from Udhampur and one related to robbery by Zahid Hussain of Congress from Chrar-i- Sharief constituency.
Muhammad Ashraf Bhat, the NC candidate from Tral, along with Sheikh Mohammad Iqbal of PDP and an Independent candidate from Bhaderwah having forgery related cases against them.
Former Minister of State of Health, Shabir Ahmed Khan, who is fighting on Congress ticket from Rajouri, has declared a case relating to sexual assault and use of force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
Two women—Anita Kumari, JKNPP candidate from Gandhi Nagar constituency, and Asia Naqash, PDP candidate from Hazratbal, share criminal backgrounds. While the former has case related to causing disappearance of evidence, the latter is accused of assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty along with other charges.
The analysis by ADR has separated the serious criminal background candidates on parameters relating to serious criminal offences like offence for which maximum punishment is 5 years or more; offence being non-bailable, if it is an electoral offence; offence related to loss to exchequer; offences like assault, murder, kidnap, rape related; and the offences that are mentioned in Representation of the People Act (Section 8) Offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and crimes against women.

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