New Delhi: Just 20 days ahead of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Polls 2020, the National Conference (NC) on Sunday decided to participate in the elections but prior to that, it wants the roadblocks placed to be removed so that the party can campaign freely in the valley.Also Read - 'Efforts Made to Restore Normalcy But Curbs Should be Lifted,' Says French Envoy After Visiting Kashmir

NC central secretary Rattan Lal Gupta has written a letter to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar and said the party is a strong votary of the democratic process and wishes to participate in the eight-phase elections starting March 5 in over 11,000 seats. Also Read - 'Don't Worry, One Democracy Will Settle it': Here's Jaishankar's Prompt Reply to US Senator on Kashmir

The letter, a copy of which is marked to the Chief Election Commissioner, stated that it is practically impossible for the party to participate in the election when its top leaders, including its president Farooq Abdullah, vice president Omar Abdullah, general secretary Ali Mohammed Sagar, are in detention under the stringent Public Safety Act.

“If the aim is to create conditions to exclude all other parties except the BJP, then nothing more needs to be said but if the aim is to create a genuine culture of grassroots democracy, then the process adopted is a deeply flawed one,” he wrote in the letter.

The NC central secretary has also asked the CEO to advise the party on how these roadblocks can be removed so that the election campaigning can happen freely in the valley.

The development comes after the Election Commission on February 13 announced that the by-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be held in eight phases from March 5.

“The polling would be held from March 5 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes,” the Union Territory’s Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said. In the wake of the poll announcement, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in the Valley.

As per the updates, the first phase of the bypolls will be held on March 5, followed by second on March 7, third on March 9, fourth on March 12, fifth on March 14, sixth on March 16, seventh on March 18 and last on March 20.