The National Conference President and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday alleged that some stone-pelters are "paid by the government to ensure low voter turnout."
"There are many stone-pelters being paid by the government to create a situation where people don't come out and vote," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
Replying to a query whether "stone-pelters" are playing with the sentiments of the people, Farooq said: "What do you mean by playing with the sentiments of the nation? Don't you think they (stone pelters) have some grievance? You are only worried about the nation. But is the nation worried about them, their future?"
He said the PDP-BJP government has failed completely. "Where is the government today? In our time the voting was 29 percent and now it's only seven percent. Who is to be blamed?" Farooq asked.
The NC president appreciated the "restraint" exercised by CRPF man when he was slapped and thrashed by some youth in central Kashmir's Budgam area on the polling day—a video of which had gone viral on social media. "It's unfortunate and shouldn't have happened, It's good the CRPF man didn't react otherwise the situation could have taken an ugly turn," he said.
Earlier addressing congregation at Gurdwara Yaadgar Guru Nanak Devji here, held in connection with Baisakhi, Dr Farooq emphasized the crucial need for religious harmony, saying all the religions of the world essentially practice and preach the teachings for betterment of humanity. "Paths may be different but ultimate destination is the same", he said.
The NC chief called for religious tolerance to bolster up the spirit of fraternity and brotherhood, saying it is needed more now than ever before when the society is ridden with the tendency of intolerance and hatred. He cautioned against religious intolerance and said that it is against the pluralistic ethos of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been a shining example of inclusiveness. He referred to the time tested unity displayed by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians from time to time and called for emulating the same spirit for making the state a better place to live in.
Dr Farooq exuded confidence that people would collectively foil the attempts of dividing the society in the name of region or religion, saying unity in diversity has been the real strength of this state. "This unity is to be maintained at all costs", he said, adding that youth have to play an important role in this. "Let us make a pledge not to get splintered on the basis of religion", he said.
Dr Farooq was accompanied by Provincial President Devender Singh Rana and senior party leader, former MLC and President of the State Gurdwara Pranbhandak Board S Trilochan Singh Wazir and others.