Jamaat-e-Islami willing to participate in polls, if Centre revokes ban

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In a significant development, the banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) on Wednesday expressed its willingness to participate in polls, if the union government lifts the ban on it.

The Jamaat was banned in early 2019 by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the run up to scrapping of the J&K special status under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), on grounds of allegedly supporting militant activities.

Jamaat was accused of being the ideological mentor of Hizbul Mujahideen — the largest indigenous militant group in Kashmir in the 1990s.

While the JeI — the largest politico-religious organization — has no organizational structure in place after the ban by the central government, the seniormost leader of the group Ghulam Qadir Wani said the group believed in democracy and never called for any poll boycott in the past.

“This is totally misleading. We never gave a call for the boycott…The decision was influenced by external pressures and threats. When nobody voted, we followed suit,” Wani told reporters in Srinagar during a press conference.

It is learnt that Wani has been at the forefront in recent years to build bridges of JeI with the State to pave the way for lifting of the ban and putting to halt the massive crackdown against the group.

Wani, who was seen casting his vote in the May 13 polls for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, said there should be democracy as it is the solution to all issues.

Wani appealed to workers to come out and cast their votes in the elections without any fear.

“And if the ban is lifted we may think of participating in elections, rather we would take part,” he said. “We will nominate our candidates if the Centre revokes the ban.”

He said while there are other issues, the revocation of the ban is their primary condition to engage in the electoral process.

The JeI leader said these crucial decisions have been taken after a meeting of the top decision-making body of the group.

“A pivotal session of JeI’s Majlis-e Shoora (decision-making body) had taken place, resulting in the decision to contest elections. Our commitment to democracy remains unwavering,” he said.

The Jamaat’s current head Hameed Fayaz and several other leaders are under detention. Fayaz was briefly released in 2021.

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