It is really a testing time for Indian democracy when the voter turnout in Srinagar by election had recorded only 7.14%. Some reported this to be 6.5%. The violence that prevailed on the day resulted in eight people losing their lives. This really should be a concern for both the state and central government.
Farooq Abdullah, the candidate of National Conference in the by election had lost no time in raking up the age old nonsense of blaming the central government, despite being the senior most living politician from the disturbed state. He is not the only one, but several other politicians from the ranks of opposition too voiced similar opinions.
On the request of state government citing the violence, finally election commission postponed the by poll for Anantnag constituency that was scheduled for 10th April. There were reports citing officials from MHA warned EC that the situation in the valley is not CONDUCIVE for elections. EC, apparently expressed inability, for if elections are not held before 16th April, the commission would appear violating constitution.
In Indian context, violence during elections was not only restricted to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Though many states witness violence during elections from fights between various party cadres, in some states, they are caused by the Red Soldiers. Even deaths were not uncommon. Does it mean, one should accept violence and deaths during elections as the new norm? No -Elections should be held in an atmosphere free of violence.
The malpractices adopted by political parties are evolving with time. The example of by poll for RK Nagar constituency in Chennai by Election Commission as huge cash was doled out for votes shows the way elections are fought in some advanced states. Those who cry hoarse about the hacking of EVM might have forgotten how ‘booth capturing’ industry ruled elections, amply supported by the police that is largely loyal to the ruling party. It was to prevent such malpractices, EVMs were introduced.
There were many instances in yester years when Naxalites gave calls to boycott elections. Many times the voter turnout was also equally dismal. Yet, no politician worth his salt spoke about that particular state going out of the hands of India. This is where Farooq Abdullah exposed his depravity. His father ruled the state. He ruled the state. Then, his son too ruled the state. It is not untrue to say Abdullahs treated the state as their private Jagir. Even after three generations rule by Abdullahs, the embers of secessionism have evolved into a raging fire engulfing the state, marring the future of the youth, kicking out Pandits out of their homeland, damaging the tourism industry, resulting in the financial loss to the nation due to continuous presence of army and so on.
Yet, no Kashmiri politician could solve the problem. But, all they can do is to offer a free advice to the Union government to talk to Pakistan. Even now, Abdullah advised Indian government to talk to Pakistan, even as he highlighted the hand of Pakistan in the protests. He warned India is losing Kashmir. Well, it appears Farooq Abdullah doesn’t follow news. Else, he would have noted how Pakistan reciprocated to the extremely positive overtures by Narendra Modi after he assumed office.
If Farooq Abdullah believes stone pelters are protesting not to become MLAs and MPs, but are fighting for their nation, he should first explain why his son ordered action against same pelters when he was ruling the state that resulted in ten deaths in 2010.
After defeat, Omar Abdullah was gracious enough to accept that the 2010 protests have damaged the image of his government.
As far as talking to Pakistan is concerned, can Farooq Abdullah explain what should be the content of such talks he is proposing? Pakistan wanted to annexe entire Jammu and Kashmir. Is it agreeable to Farooq Abdullah? Is this what he is advocating? Why and how he failed to engage the youth of his state in talks while he was in the government. Even if he argues that there were few unjustified dismissals of state governments, can he show another state as an example where secession was demanded? Indian democracy has its own shares of fallacies like in any other systems of other countries. Even Farooq Abdullah would not disagree to the fact, despite these fallacies, Indian democracy has only grown to be stronger.
Then, what caused the demand for secession in Kashmir?
It was only the depravity of political leaders like Farooq Abdullah and leaders of other parties like Huriyat and PDP. Every political leader in Kashmir, who was a feudal businessman with interests in the state and outside as well had taken the poor for a ride and turned the protests against India into a business. They enjoy state security and facilities and talk against the state that supports them. In the entire episode it is the ordinary people, who lose their right to elect a government.
If not for the violence that prevented the people coming out of their houses, did Kashmir not witness higher percentage of voting? Had this thing happened in Chattisgarh or Odisha, would police have acted differently and treat the perpetrators of violence with kid gloves? No. Even in other states, police do their job similarly.
Was Farooq Abdullah not provoking the state youth by giving statements like “Youth are not afraid of death. They pick up stones for Azadi”?
Did he care to explain what he means by the term Azadi? All his statements were issued at his run up to the by election. Was he not playing a hypocrite to raise this Azadi issue only to benefit him in the elections? Following the BJP win in UP, he said the rule in India had become a majoritarian. How could he issue such a statement after the genocide of Pandits in Kashmir and forcing the living ones to live in exile?
When he talks of Azadi, what is it he wants that is not available to the common citizens of Kashmir now? In many aspects, the government is spending more money per person in J&K despite it is going down the drain. Had that money be allowed to spend in states like Jharkhand or Odisha it could have been used to improve conditions of many people who live in the forests. Average Kashmiri is perhaps living better than average Indian living in hilly regions.
It is time for the union government to evaluate the Kashmir issue with a fresh outlook. It is high time to allow Indians to buy real estate in the region. As of now, the law that allows Kashmiris to buy land in other parts of India while preventing others buying land in Kashmir is discriminative against Indians of other states. It is time for the government to take action against the political leaders who issue any provocative statements and prevent them from living in Kashmir. Let them live elsewhere without disturbing the local people, who have started looking at stone-pelting a lucrative career option.
The state and central governments should note that notwithstanding the nonsense talk of Farooq Abdullah, it is their job and responsibility to ensure people come out to vote without fear. Whoever obstructs people exercising their franchise should be severely dealt with.