How do they see Kashmir?

Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Yasin Malik, in an election boycott in Kashmir.
Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Yasin Malik, in an election boycott in Kashmir.

As the whole India is electing the next government, in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir, the process of elections is once again seeing less enthusiasm and violence. While it has been three years since the region, Kashmir, witnessed a major mass uprising, the people are divided whether elections are beneficial to them or not. The majority, as seen on ground, is staying away from the polls. In South Kashmir constituency, 72% voters preferred to stay away from the polls while only 28% voted. There have been continuous protests and boycott campaigns organised by the pro-freedom groups that the state has dealt with force. Most of the leaders of these groups have been arrested or stopped from running boycott campaigns. Reportedly, 600 youth were arrested in the region ahead of the next phase of polls in the summer capital Srinagar.

In this boiling atmosphere of the region, The Kashmir Walla talked to a few people from different fields of the society. The common view is that the situation in Kashmir is changing, and has changed to large extent after 2008, 2010 mass uprisings and Afzal Guru hanging. Advocate Mir Urfi says that the people of Kashmir are politically alienated. “Separatists represent the masses in Kashmir and can be said to be the de-facto representatives of the common people. Armed struggle is less of the solution and more of the reaction. I think that when power becomes arrogant the violence becomes the order of the day. As long as the political subjugation is here, one cannot rule out the existence of the armed structure,” she adds.

In another development that has been widely reported in past few months that the youth are joining mainstream politics in Kashmir is also seen as less of a change. A young human rights activist, Ifra Butt, sees this as a sort of choosing a career. “They [youth in mainstream] assert that they will be the change makers but the change they wish to make is not possible in this set up. However, they can play their part by showing the real situation to the whole world. The fabricated picture of Kashmir needs to be castigated,” says Ifra.

Reacting to such responses from people, Tahir Syeed, a young journalist who recently joined People’s Democratic Party, says that Kashmir can change by working within the mainstream politics. He adds, “When you will remain in mainstream everyone will listen to you, if you are not in it no one will listen to you. I want to say that I want to contribute for Kashmiri people in some way at small level and I think I can contribute to them by remaining in mainstream politics.”

While all these views differ from each other, Kashmir is seeing a new political enlightenment where young people are taking part in both sides of politics. The mainstream politics, however, continues to be seen as less powerful to solve Kashmir issue and the anti-India sentiment in the valley is rising, predominantly has after the hanging of Afzal Guru. It is to be seen how the situation will turns out to be in the coming state elections that are scheduled end of this year.

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