Verdict 2008: Jammu and Kashmir’s “vote for democracy”?

December 28, 2008

As the pro-India National Conference appeared set to emerge as the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, the writing on the wall is a tad difficult to miss.Fed up of living under the constant shadow of violence in a state divided under religious lines, Kashmiri voters surprised seasoned political pundits by turning up in large numbers to cast their ballots.They defied calls of poll boycott from Muslim separatists and belied fears of violence in the wake of the bitter Amarnath Yatra land row that led to the fall of the Congress-PDP coalition government and imposition of central rule.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the high voter turnout a “vote for democracy” and Congress President Sonia Gandhi has said this should be a message for “our neighbours” (about what the people of Kashmir want).Whether it is their desire for better governance and development first and the issue of autonomy later, the Jammu and Kashmir voters have set the ball rolling on the counting day in many ways.Conducted in seven phases, the elections this time came on the heels of agitation over the Kashmir government’s decision to give forest land to the trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims.This enraged many Muslims.The government then backed down on its decision, which in turn angered many Hindus in Jammu, the winter capital of the region.The deep divisions that surfaced and the polarized electorate seems to have helped the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party that has traditionally struggled to make its presence felt in the state. The BJP won 11 seats from Jammu, a gain of 10 seats from 2002.Both the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party have done well in the valley.The National Conference has kept the doors open for a possible alliance with Congress to make the half-way mark in the 87-member assembly.But such an alliance will not come without its customary wariness given the history of their political tie-ups in the late 70s and 80s, most of which were followed by periods of Governor’s rule in the troubled state.It remains to be seen whether the NC and Congress take advantage of the lull in overall violence in the state and live up to voters’ expectations of giving more weightage to development issues.Or will they get cowed down by separatists looking to regain their foothold in the region?


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This could be the best answer to dirty plays of Pakistan. Long claim of Pakistan over Kashmir will get a setback, because of overwhelming voting in this region (more than 60%). But I am not hoping that Pakistan will give-up hopes, and stop the terrorist activities in the region and rest of India.

Posted by Pravin | Report as abusive

Farooq Abdullah had once told us that if Afzal Guru was hanged, India would burn.What are Farooq’s latest views?

Posted by yudhvir singh chaudhary | Report as abusive

India playing to the WORLD, again with all their dilectory tactics and extravegent words. I am sure its was reuters/bbc that was reporting most of pro independent leaders were all under house arrest. Most of the places never voted except in Jammu where is majorty is Hindu fanatics.People like abdullah are not true leaders of Kashmir, they are indian installed puppets and are enhancing their Indian values. He and all the other leaders should be shameful for taking part in this election which only legitimizes Indian occupation. How can they be Kashmiri they are just power hungry show them couple women and currencey they will sell their own mother. I am ashmed, people like him are representing us opressed kashmiris.Kashmiris want INDEPENDENCE!!! AZADI! AZADI! AZADI!WHICH IS RIGHT OF KASHMIRIS!!!Hands of Kashmir India!!!

Posted by kASHMIRI786 | Report as abusive

Pravin!Did you get “60percent” turn out from your STARNEWS, you should be shameful you katris. Kashmiris will never, never, never surrender to the illagel occupation of Kashmir. Why have election when their should be peblicite as agreed bu the UN, you Indian went runing to UN but on the other side of the coin dont want to implement UN resolution.Indian who do think you are making fools let me answer that only urself. Wake up from your wishful thinking and give Kasghmiris their rights. Your staged election where you are forcing the people to come out and vote will not fool the world. Only Indians can be made fools with the help of STARNEWS.Kashmir wants Azadi! Independence! Anythng below that is unacceptable!!

Posted by ali | Report as abusive

India needs few more bloody noses before the opressors of the human rights will realise no army or occupation can silent Kashmiri and legitimise Indian occupation.Go to capital of Kashmir, you will only hear ” AZADI, AZADI, AZADI, AZADI”. kASHMIRIS WANT freedom No dramas and fake elections. India can fool the world bit not Kashmiris!All kashmiris are under one banner which reads “FREE KASHMIR” nd inshala it will be…..Kashmir Zinda badd!

Posted by Majid | Report as abusive

Indians talk about Democracy, why not have a peblicite in whole of Kashmir with three options:1- Independent Kashmir2- Kashmir with Pakistan3- Kashmir with India (NOT)Most of the Kashmiris will go for the No1 – Option Independent Kashmir and the Option2 but Will NEVER accept option 3. I guess if that is what Kashmiris wanted we woudint hace sacrificied 70,000 Kashmiris for the cause… So let me tell all the Indian. Your dream will never become reality so for your own benefot wake up and give Kashmir back to Kashmiris…

Posted by Kashmir Voice | Report as abusive

@ali (and other Pakis)Stop dreaming. Other than government, that too for votes, no one cares about you. Kashmir is ours, not muslim’s. If you want to leave, goto pak and stay there. But whatever you do, you sure as hell ain’t getting no Kashmir from us.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

1. In India controlled Kashmir, there is no question about Independence / Pakistani control / India control. People have voted with great enthusiasm, proves Kashmiri people want to be part of India. Which was obvious choice looking at the progress India is making in many fields, where as Pakistan is all but going down with it’s LET and covert ISI plans.2. There is no point Kashmir being Independent state. This will not help them in any way. They will have hostile neighbors like Pakistan (always ready to occupy reminder Kashmir ), China (already eaten up a part of Kashmir, sold out by Pakistan), and of course we have Afghanistan (Kashmiri’s definitely don’t want to be ruled by Taliban). People are intelligent enough to understand this.3. Kashmir has been integral part of India since ancient times. With changing times the people got converted to other religion. But India has absorbed people with all the religions in the course of time. And future will show that India will do that again for Kashmiri people. Indian government is committed to people of all states may it be Tamilnadu, Gujarat or J & K.4. Kashmir issue is going to become history with time, as has happened with the Khalistan issue (which was also backed by Pakistan). But I don’t think Pakistan will keep quiet, they will try to make one more state unstable.

Posted by Pravin Rajeshirke | Report as abusive

This election result has clearly proved that kashmir is on indian side. Pakistan should first try to safeguard its territories than indulging in other nations problem.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

Are people aware that (1) To even utter the word Azadi in POK is to risk arrest; and that (2) Pakistan has taken the Northern Areas out of Kashmir entirely? personally, I say if the Muslim majority Valley wants Independence, let it go. It will be taken over in 12 hours by the Pakistan Army and then the Valley people will find out what life is about. But Valley people cannot claim to speak for the Hindus of Jammu, Shias and Buddhists of Ladakh. They want to stay with India and should. BTW, is Pakistan prepared to permit secession vote in Baluchistan, Sindh, and NWFP?

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive

@ all the separatists aboveUnfortunately, you are all blinkered by your fanatic views and fail to see the truth. In the end, the fact remains that there was a record turnout in Kashmir. The government just simply cannot bribe that many people with ‘women and money’As for the plebiscite, there is no reason why it should be held. Kashmir has just shown you that it is a part of India.Is the Pakistani government ready to hold a plebiscite in Baluchistan? Did the Chinese hold a plebiscite in Tibet? Just as with Khalistan, (and all other separatist movements) it will die down with time. If it doesn’t, it will be squashed.And as for separating from India, based on religious differences, that is completely bogus. Muslims in India are given exactly the same opportunities as the Hindus or any other religion. Don’t believe me? Look at our the biggest names in Bollywood. Our ex-President and the Father of the Indian missile program?If at any point of time, you feel uncomfortable being in India, please feel free to head over to our friendly neighbor, Pakistan. Perhaps you could get a job with the Taliban.

Posted by Abhishek | Report as abusive