This was no plebiscite, yet over 70 percent people rejected what India calls a democratic exercise! What does that tell you about the legitimacy India enjoys in Kashmir? Kashmir rejects India even if it is simply about bijli, sadak and paani.
The elections for the 543 parliamentary seats of the 16thLokSabha are underway in India. Starting from 7th April and being conducted across the country in nine phases, the elections will be over on May 12th and the results will be declared on May 16th. The two faces that have grabbed almost the entire media attention include NarendraModi, whose role in the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims is well known and yet he is the BharatiyaJanata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate to lead the ‘secular’ country; and Rahul Gandhi whose being a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family is reason enough to make him capable to fight the race.
The elections have been marred by controversies and hate speeches. Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia was seen in a video asking Hindus to forcibly evict Muslims from their homes. Bihar’s BJP leader Giriraj Singh went to the extent of saying that those who opposed Modi would have to find a place in Pakistan! Although the statement became a reason for jokes on social networking sites, yet one cannot deny that the same mindset prevails amongst many others, especially against the Muslim minority of the country. The most recent bouts of violence in Assam have left more than 30 Assamese Muslims dead. Itis not just the Muslims; Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s remarks that“Rahul Gandhi goes to Dalits’ houses for honeymoon and picnic” makes one realize how easily the Dalits are made a butt of jokes, how exclusionary the country’s vision is. One wonders, then, what secular, democratic principles is the country celebrating actually?
Nevertheless, selfies of inked fingers have become a fashion, especially among first time voters. Indians are glad to be taking part in the world’s largest democratic exercise. To them, this is their chance at having a say in who they wish to see leading the country. However, these feelings of jubilation have stopped short of crossing the mountains into Indian Occupied Kashmir. For Kashmir, this is just another election under the shadow of the gun. To ensure ‘free, fair and peaceful polling’, over 1000 youth were taken into ‘preventive custody’ ahead of the polls, and each day is followed with reports of more arrests. Which country has to take the people of its own ‘integral part’ into custody to ensure fair elections? One can only laugh at such absurdity. By its own handling of the events in Kashmir, India has time and again shown that it is keeping Kashmir by force and that its claims of democratic exercise are nothing but a farce.
While North Kashmir goes to the enforced polls on 7th May, the turnout in South Kashmir was 28% and that in Srinagar constituency was 25.62 % as per the official figures. This was no plebiscite, yet over 70 percent people rejected what India calls a democratic exercise! What does that tell you about the legitimacy India enjoys in Kashmir? Kashmir rejects India even if itis simply about bijli, sadak and paani.
The saddest part is that blood was yet again spilled on the streets of Kashmir. The lofty mountains witnessed deaths again. Jehlum reflected red once more. In South Kashmir, an attack by unknown gunmen resulted in the killing of a polling officer, a teacher Zia ulHaq who is survived by a wife and an eight month old daughter. In the NawaKadal area of Srinagar, 24 year old Bashir Ahmad fell prey to CRPF firing while another injured remains in a critical condition.
The story that followed was no different from what India has always been doing in Kashmir. Killings are followed by curfews. People arenot even allowed to gather and mourn their dead. The outside world is shown how peaceful Kashmir is, how long queues were waiting outside polling booths, eager to vote. What about those dozens of polling booths that didnot see a single voter turn up? That does not fit the ‘integral part theory’ and, therefore, would be kept away from the public eye. Whatever India’s stance on Kashmir the fact remains that Kashmir’s preferences are certainly in – not being with India. It is visible on the streets of Kashmir in every little thing – small children shouting Azaadi, youth arguing for it and knowing their history despite being kept away from it, the women and the elderly joining in protests and so on. For most of those in Kashmir, when they do not even recognize the Indian state, why should they participate in its political processes? Even if India acts like an ostrich and pretends otherwise and the Twitter Chief Minister (Omer Abdullah) calls such Kashmiris ‘misguided’, the truth stands on its own.
You want to see voter selfies of the occupied and the oppressed people from this part of the world? There are no selfies of inked fingers from Kashmir. The boy from NawaKadal who got injured in CRPF firing had to get his finger amputated. You want to see inked fingers? The ink is red – a reminder of Kashmir’s sacrifices and India’s coercion – and not just a finger, but the hands rise… for boycott… for Azaadi.