Election in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has a different meaning for many, somewhat different from its literal meaning or what it is considered in the rest of the world. Some call it as a symbol of accession to India and some term it as a deceit to the martyrs of Kashmir and an attempt to dilute the disputed nature of Kashmir. However I feel like these two popular view points are too extreme and I have some reasons for such a feeling. If it had been a symbol of accession to India then there would have been no conflict, not at least internally in the state, neither the need of some seven lakh troops, nor the frequent curfews and restrictions, not even the necessity of the black laws like AFSPA and PSA. Similarly linking election to deceit is too harsh an interpretation by the other camp. Their boycott calls has not stopped people from participating in this process. However at the same time one cannot completely deny the conflict and claim normalcy in Kashmir by mere participation of people in the elections. Attributing a self serving meaning to the election in a region accepted as dispute internationally and bilaterally by the parties to it, and when is totally illogical. One can make their lords happy by such an act but that does not change the ground reality.
The realistic point needed to be understood and accepted by Indian political leadership and the leadership in Kashmir including separatists and mainstream politicians is that election should only be considered as an administrative process needed to provide good governance to the people of Kashmir and also something which can and should facilitate the peaceful resolution of Kashmir conflict.
Needless to say that torn by manmade and natural disasters Kashmir presently needs good governance more than anything. With no attempt to deliver good governance to the people of Kashmir or to work for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir conflict what we have witnessed so far can only be termed as a governance mess at the hands of mainstream politicians characterised by power lust, unprofessionalism, corruption, favouritism, bias and a surrender of self respect and honour to Delhi. In such a scenario a positive and healthy politics is needed at all levels for peace, prosperity and conflict resolution and for that goal an honest and true interpretation of election is needed by all.
It is very important for the government of India to understand that nothing more can be contributed to peace from their side than giving true democracy a fair chance without interpreting and advertising their own version of it. Such an initiative from their side is in their own interest and in the interest of peace and conflict resolution at large. History is witness that from not allowing the plebiscite front to participate in election to rigging in the elections like that in 1987, all such efforts has only complicated the conflict, disrupted the peace in the region and has largely backfired. An honest introspection about the factors that led to the development of armed struggle in Kashmir can help them understand this point.
Equally important for the separatists, with due regards to them, is to understand that boycott has not proved to be that fruitful, it has only let to misrepresentation of Kashmiries and Kashmir issue at the hands of those who take advantage out of the boycott call. Their boycott call has not stopped a significant proportion of the population in the past from participating in the electoral process. However in my opinion their boycott call do stop a significant proportion of intellectual and educated class particularly youth from participating in the electoral process who if will participate in the electoral process can turn the tables. It is time to rethink for the separatists and for the educated youth who refrain from the electoral process. In my opinion the intellectual class and educated youth need to come out in the upcoming elections and vote the right and best candidate, who can accept and propagate the administrative nature of elections, the need of conflict resolution, provide good governance to the people and also facilitate the resolution of Kashmir conflict.
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