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Low voter turnout in Kashmir bypolls – Underlying Despodency

Low voter turnout in Kashmir bypolls – Underlying Despodency
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File Photo Anwarul Hoda

Kashmir is always a hot political cake to have. Isn’t it?

On April 9, 2017, J&K witnessed bypoll election along with eight other states for 10 constituencies across India. During the polls more than 200 incidents of violence were reported injuring scores of people and killing 8 others.

It was for the first time after 2014 General election when bullet guns were overtly preferred over pellet guns to crush the protesters but debates in print as well as on electronic media were all confined to ‘lowest voter turnout in last three decades as a endanger trend for the democracy’.

Shahid Lone, a Kashmiri student and a doctoral candidate in Political Economy at JMI, New Delhi mentioned that, “Among other things, if you want to witness ‘Gang-rape of democracy’ Kashmir is the best place.”

Kashmir happens to be a conflict zone in South Asia which is partly divided between India Pakistan and China. The largest part is controlled by India . In past 7 decades, Kashmiris have witnessed all kind of brutality. Killings are one common occasion which on an average may occur twice or thrice or even more in a day in the valley.

India has deployed 7 lakh army personal in the state which accounts for 125 lakh of the population. Ratio wise one security person is to 17 civilians. However, one of the interesting facts is that the number of Army personals in Kashmir alone exceeds the total number of Pakistani Army.

Coming back to the Sunday episode much has been talked about what went wrong during the polls but the truth is that anger and alienation in local populace has reached a new zenith since the ascent of Modi government at the Centre. The shift in aggressiveness of government has been drastic and so has been the retaliation. And this is taking away the lives of the innocent civilians.

“Out of eight civilians killed on Sunday during the Srinagar bypoll, one was a teenage son of a policeman who was posted at Charar e Sharif. The boy was playing on the field with his friends when they were targeted. Locals say security personnel opened fire in the frustration as, despite prodding, not a single voter turned out in that area. Special powers have blinded our security personnel, while political leaders seem permanently visionless”, reported Mohammad Anas, Deputy News Editor at Sunday Guardian.

Sunday demonstration wasn’t spontaneous rather a follow-up of July 2016 protest. This is on record that Kashmir is witnessing a cycle of large-scale protest after Burhan Wani’s death which lasted for more than 5 months. In these protests number of civilians have been killed and mass blinding has taken place using pellet guns.

Although separatist leadership has a precedence of calling for poll boycott yet around 70 percent polling was witnessed in 2014 assembly elections. But this time around it seems that unabated repression and worst form of brutality has left the  Kashmiri youth at a place where the gulf between Indian state and Kashmiri youth has widened to a level of irreconcilability, the angry youth are feeling choked to express the anger through peaceful means. The 2016 uprising and the incidents since January 2017 are testimony to the fact that Kashmiri youth have taken the command of resistance movement in their own hands now, have conquered all forms of fear and found unconventional ways to take the state head-on.

The need of the hour is that India, Pakistan and international community should  recognizes the actual problem and starts a political process to address the core issue and the aspirations of Kashmiri youth and stop pushing them to the wall.

Author is an Economic graduate from AMU. He carries experience as a freelance journalist based in Delhi. He is also actively involved with Environmental issues and works with Reap Benefit to find solution in sustainable way. His passion include writing and reciting Urdu poetry, exploring new places, photography, reading novels and music.He can be reached at

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of Oracle Opinions.


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