Divided We Fall

Indian parliamentary elections in Kashmir are usually a dull affair as people fail to relate with the mainland politics. But in 2014 things were entirely different. With Gujarat chief minister Narendara Modi – who is best known among Kashmiri Muslims for his role in post Godhra riots – running for top post, Valley is watching keenly.

As polling in Kashmir concluded, around 70 per cent of electoral population preferred to stay away from polling booths in Kashmir.

And those who braved odds to go out and cast their votes became instant targets of the majority who boycotted the electoral process.

In last 25 years of conflict Kashmir has never been so divided when it comes to elections.

It was the killing of a Sarpanch and his son and a village numberdar that set the election wheels spinning in volatile Kashmir. It happened just days before South Kashmir went to polls. The immediate outcome of the killing was that South witnessed lowest turnout among the three seats that Kashmir has.

Next came the big day as Srinagar and other peripheral districts went to polling on 30th of April.

Once again violent protests, ballot and boycott set the pace of the day. As the day came to an end and protests grew intense CRPF men shot dead a 24-year-old youth Bashir. This crippled entire Kashmir for next three days as everybody was mourning loss of a precious life. In order to conduct elections peacefully government had taken every measure to keep trouble at bay. This measure saw more than a thousand youngsters spending elections days behind bars, thus irking locals. These precautionary measures by state authorities however proved counterproductive as angry parents blamed government of harassing youth in the name of maintaining law and order. Two days after election process is officially over in Kashmir hundreds of youth are still inside jails, leaving people wondering as what was the real motive behind their detentions.

But the most intense reaction to the election process was in North Kashmir as despite recording higher voter turnout it remained tense even after the voting concluded. There was complete divide between those who has voted and those who have favoured boycott. But the division turned ugly when a number of youngsters in twin towns of Sopore and Baramullah started hunting people with indelible ink marks on their fingers. It was kind of a witch hunt that left scores with bleeding fingers and broken bones. The situation took ugly turn when youngsters stripped and thrashed people who had voted. Before things could have got out of control senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani appeal angry youngsters to stop vengeance politics as it favours the system. Elections are over and at the end of it we all are Kashmiris who have stood by each other through good and bad. So rather than dividing the society on the basis of ink marks we must unit for our collective good.

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