With your support, we have completed seven years of uninterrupted publication. We have maintained the tradition of dedicating the anniversary issue to a theme of great historic importance, the rise and fall of Muslim United Front.
Elections of 1987 are being attributed as the main factor responsible for whatever Kashmir has witnessed for last more than 25 years. It was seen as a reaction to mass rigging by the NC-Congress alliance.
Despite being vital to the narrative of contemporary Kashmir, the not-so-distant event has more been used to make-a-point rather than to understand-a-point. Part of the routine rhetoric, the event has literally been forgotten and buried in public memory.
But the 1987 election was a watershed event in Kashmir’s contemporary history. It was history’s first incident in which ‘unity’ was managed on basis of faith and despite that a major section of clergy stayed out of it. For the first time, such a large population of the voters participated in election.
Regardless of the outcome of the polls, 1987 election had Himalayan consequences for its characters and the society. One section of the contestants became part of the rebellion and another section of these characters were assassinated in the later years by different conflicting forces, another rare distinction to this election. Even a section of them migrated altogether.
Even the academics have skipped examining this exercise in wake of a popular belief that Muslim United Front (MUF) had scared the ruling coalition. Nobody has answered a very typical classroom question: had the polls been no rigged, would Kashmir still had militancy or not? While everybody has written about the landslide support that MUF enjoyed, there has not been an attempt to offer an idea if this alliance knew political systems well.
A larger section of the MUF was driven directly from the polling station to the jail. But did the alliance fail in engaging its support base to prevent militancy? Is it correct that had MUF sustained itself, it would have swept the next election?
MUF emerged like a wave and dissipated within 24 months. But it laid the basis for formal separatist politics. Hurriyat’s roots are traceable only from MUF days.
This special publication that took a reasonably good time, unlike all our thematic issues of last seven years, has tried to seek answers to some of these questions. Wherever there were no answers, questions were flagged for subsequent academic investigation.
But this entire exercise would have failed, had there not been Merajuddin, the ace photo-journalist who has somehow been able to protect part of his coverage of 1987 polls. Without visuals, this critical narrative of a crucial era would have failed to put things in perspective. We thank Meraj for throwing open his archive for Kashmir Life.
We hope that this special publication contributes towards understanding 1987 better. We would be eagerly waiting for your responses. – Editor
Ace video-journalist, Merajuddin, opened his archives for Kashmir Life . In this pic, Merajuddin busy selecting best photographs for this anniversary issue dedicated to March 23, 1987 elections and the rise and fall of Muslim United Front.