New Age Islam
Tue Oct 27 2020, 08:33 AM

Current Affairs ( 26 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Kashmir Valley cocks a snook at secessionists: hopes of durable peace brighten

Asianage.com


The remarkable feature of the first two rounds of the Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir has been the heavy voter turnout in all three regions of the state in spite of the severe winter conditions prevailing. For some time, the test of the interest of the electorate in the poll process has chiefly been the Valley on account of the tortuous politics that has benighted this beautiful region. In this election, however, the Muslim-dominated parts of the Jammu division were also something of a question mark. In the wake of the terrible recent agitation — which took an ugly communal turn in some areas — in Jammu in retaliation to the large-scale disturbances in the Valley on the Amarnath shrine board issue, Kashmir’s separatist movement had made the dire prediction that all Muslim areas of the state, including in Jammu, were now under its hegemony. The voting pattern has shown the claim of these prophets to be false.

 

The overwhelming voter interest in the Kashmir Valley as well as areas of Muslim concentration in Jammu shows that the electorate has voted in a decisive manner. No matter what spin the secessionists choose to put on this development, voters have indicated unambiguously that they have no aversion to taking part in a poll process conducted by India’s Election Commission, which has been a bugbear for separatist elements.

 

Such was the scale of the mobilisation in the Valley against the temporary transfer of land to the Amarnath shrine board, and the fierce administrative response, including police firing, that it invited, that leading mainline politicians were nervous about the timing of the election so soon after the end of the agitation. The separatists, on the other hand, were overjoyed.

 

The electorate has proved them both wrong. Clearly, both sides were out of touch with the public mood. In the last election in 2002, the voter turnout had also been good in the Kashmir Valley, barring the leading urban centres, although about 700 people had been killed by terrorists for showing interest in the poll process. This time around the terrorists have not shown their hand. This has certainly been a factor in the turnout — between 50 and over 60 per cent at most polling stations in the Valley — being higher than in 2002.

 

The anti-boycott campaign of the top separatist leaders has clearly not cut any ice. It is to be seen how the principal urban centres, including Srinagar — the bastion of separatism — vote this time around. If the healthy voting trend in Ganderbal constituency, which is on the outskirts of Srinagar and has traditionally been a terrorism-infested area, is any guide, the state’s summer capital could also show it is interested in elections, provided that the extremist elements do not resort to violence. They have already indicated their propensity to intimidate voters, as they did in Baramulla on the eve of the voting in Kangan and Ganderbal. Much would, therefore, depend on the precautionary measures taken by the authorities in the remaining five rounds of the electoral exercise in the state. It is best to defer a considered political assessment of the process until the elections are finally over in Jammu and Kashmir.

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/opinion/editorial/sign-of-hope-in-kashmir-valley.aspx


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/current-affairs/kashmir-valley-cocks-a-snook-at-secessionists--hopes-of-durable-peace-brighten--/d/1020


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