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Statement by the Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, at the conclusion of the second phase of elections to the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly, September 24, 2002

Indian Prime Atal Behari Vajpayee, while on an official visit to the Maldives, applauded the people of Jammu and Kashmir for defying terrorist threats, as well as appeals by secessionist groups to stay away from the elections to the State Legislative Assembly, and participating in the polls. On September 24, 2002, Vajpayee issued a statement after the conclusion of the phase two of the four phases of elections in the State. Presented below is the full text of the statement.

My dear compatriots in Jammu & Kashmir, accept my hearty congratulations for the courage and conviction with which you have participated in the first two rounds of polling in the elections to the Legislative Assembly of your State.

All the people in the rest of our country join me in saying, with admiration and thanks, "Salaam" to you.

We in India have seen many elections. But rarely has there been an election in which the voters have had to brave threats to their very lives just to exercise their fundamental right; in which the vote is not so much for this or that party, not for this or that candidate, but for democracy and national unity. Irrespective of who wins, it is clear to the whole world that, in Jammu & Kashmir, the ballot is winning a resounding victory over the bullet.

Since the elections were announced on August 22, there have been as many as 400 incidents of terrorist violence, in which 37 political activists, including two candidates, have been killed. Sixty security personnel also have lost their lives and over 100 others have been injured.

The successful anti-terrorist operation in Srinagar this morning was a yet another reminder of the lethal plans of anti-India and anti-democracy forces to sabotage the polls. I take this opportunity to express our appreciation and gratitude to all those security and administration personnel who worked for the smooth conduct of polling in the State.

By answering fear with fortitude, you have foiled the sinister designs of those indulging in terrorism, and their patrons across the border. They did everything to subvert the polls kill candidates, intimidate voters and threaten polling personnel. Their description of the polling in Jammu & Kashmir so far a "sham" shows nothing but their growing frustration.

Before the start of the electoral process, we had pledged that the elections in Jammu & Kashmir would be free and fair. The first two round of polling are a proof that, with your cooperation, we have redeemed that pledge. I am confident that the remaining part of the election would further reinforce its positive message and open a new chapter of peace and development in the history of your State.



September 24, 2002

Source: Ministry of External Affairs





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