Wednesday, Sep 25, 2002
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By V. Jayanth
In a statement released to the media here, Mr. Vajpayee, who is on a four-day official visit to the Maldives, said: "All the people in the rest of the country join me in saying with admiration and thanks, `salaam' to you".
"We, in India, have 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 and Kashmir, the ballot is winning in a resounding victory over the bullet.''
The Prime Minister went on: "By answering 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 and Kashmir so far as a `sham' shows nothing but their growing frustration.
"Before the start of the electoral process, we had pledged that the elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be free and fair. The first two rounds 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," he said.
The "successful anti-terrorist operation in Srinagar this morning was 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 the security and administration personnel who worked for the smooth conduct of polling in the State".
Since the elections were announced on August 22, Mr. Vajpayee said there had been "as many as 400 incidents of terrorist violence in which 37 political activists, including two candidates, have been killed, 60 security personnel also have lost their lives and over 100 others have been injured".
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