MIRPUR/ISLAMABAD - The far-flung mountainous Haveli and Bagh districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir remained in the grip of severe tension on Sunday, following Saturday’s bloody clashes between the activists of ruling PPP-AJK and the PML-N in Haveli town on Saturday in run up to general elections in the state scheduled for July 21.

“Two persons, both belonging to PML-N, were killed and six others injured during fierce clashes between the workers of the two parties in Haveili district of Poonch division on Saturday,” Police Control Room in-charge officer told this scribe over telephone Sunday night.

Police has booked 44 persons belonging to either side, including sitting AJK minister for electricity Faisal Mumtaz Rathore, the officer said.

But the PML-N AJK sources claimed that no arrest of the accused of the alleged attack on the their activists, including party candidate Chaudhry Abdul Aziz, were made by the local police despite passage of 48 hours after the incident – since the accused belonged to the ruling PPP party.

The clashes reportedly erupted during an Eid Milan Party held in connection with election campaign where activists of both parties opened fire at each other leaving many people injured, including former AJK minister Abdul Aziz.

The injured were rushed to local hospitals and two of them succumbed to their injuries. The funeral prayers of the deceased, Qamar Din S/O Mir Muhammad and Muhammad Younis S/O Ch Satter Din Gujjar, were offered late Sunday.

PML-N AJK leadership has also accused the PPP activists of resorting to an assault on their candidate in Bagh district Mushtaq Minhas during an election campaign rally.

In Islamabad, the leaders of parent parties – ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the main opposition at Centre Pakistan Peoples Party –traded barbs yesterday about violence in the campaign for AJK elections.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) should play a role to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in Azad Kashmir. It was the responsibility of the AJK CEC to make such atmosphere where elections could be held in a peaceful manner without interference of the local administration, he added.

The minister was talking to the media along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Asif Kirmani after visiting the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to enquire after the injured PML-N candidate from Haveli, Ch Muhammad Aziz.

He alleged that the PPP candidates were using government resources openly in their election campaigns with the support of local administration.

With the support of sitting AJK PM Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, he said, the PPP had started violent politics ahead of the elections, realising its confirmed defeat in the upcoming elections. Ch Abdul Majeed’s statements were on record showing his threatening attitude to promote abusive and violent politics in the AJK, he added.

Pervaiz Rashid said besides Saturday’s violence in Haveili, life attempt was made on Mushtaq Minhas, another PML-N candidate in Bagh, by the PPP supporters while they also damaged property of PML-N supporters in Nakiyal.

He said it was the responsibility of local administration to avoid such incidents and take action against culprits, but the biased AJK police had failed to arrest those who were behind the incident.

He said in the presence of PPP government led by Ch Majeed, holding of free and fair election was doubtful. He said local administration officials were supporting the PPP candidates being shareholders of government corruption.

The minister said despite all the threats and use of government machinery, the AJK people would vote in the PML-N.

He demanded the AJK CEC to appoint those in administration who were not part of any political party. He questioned why the CEC didn’t take notice of firing incident and that why he was reluctant to ensure arrest of culprits.

The CEC would be held responsible “if the tense situation continues and the local government machinery continues its support to the PPP candidates,” he added.

The minister said such unlawful activities could weaken the Kashmir cause at international forum. He assured full support of the federal government to the AJK CEC in ensuring peaceful atmosphere and holding free and fair elections.

He said during last two days grave human rights violations had been witnessed in held Srinagar by Indian forces. He said the United Nations and international human rights organisations should take notice of these incidents in which 20 Kashmiris lost their lives and hundreds were injured.

Later, the minister along with party leadership and workers offered Fateha for the departed soul of Abdul Sattar Edhi.

On the other hand, PPP Central Information Secretary and former PPP minister Qamar Zaman Kaira rejected the allegations saying the ministers of the PML-N including Ch Barjees Tahir, Pervaiz Rasheed and Special Assistant to PM Asif Kirmani were involved the election campaign for their party candidates.

He alleged the PML-N was trying to win the elections through intimidation and violence.