Vote and fight for azadi can’t go together, say downtown residents

Srinagar: Carrying his granddaughter in her lap, 60-year-old Ghulam Nabi is roaming around a small lane on the western side of the Gani Memorial stadium in Rajouri Kadal locality here. Murmuring with the kid, Ghulam Nabi keeps shifting his gaze occasionally towards the vast stadium, where lives of many youth were cut short during the 2010 mass uprising.
“Voting for Indian elections is tantamount to sell out of the blood of the martyrs’. It will be an insult to those youth who were killed mercilessly on the mountain tops, in the fields, and lanes and by lanes of Kashmir. To those who were shot dead and buried in mass graves. To Tufail and Wamiq, who were shot dead in the cold-blood here,” says Ghulam Nabi, pointing towards the stadium where the two teenagers were killed by government forces in the summer of 2010 triggering massive anti-India uprising that left over 120 people, many youth dead, in firing by police.
“I’ve never voted, and I don’t intend to vote as long as we’re under Indian occupation. My conscience will never let me do so. The best tribute to the martyrs, I believe is, to boycott these sham polls,” Ghulam Nabi, a wood carving artisan, said.
Recalling the 2010 agitation, he said he was beaten up by soldiers inside his house. He said even his son was shot at and injured by the forces while chasing the protesters.
“Every second person in this locality has been subjected to brutality by the forces. And by voting, we’re further strengthening the occupation. We have to change ourselves to change our destiny,” he added.
Ghulam Nabi also castigated the pro-freedom leaders for failing to put up a united face to lead the nation. He said that the mass uprising of 2008 provided a golden opportunity to the pro-freedom leadership to resolve the Kashmir issue.
“The uprising of 2008 consumed over 60 lives. Kashmir had come to a standstill. Had the leaders pushed it well, we might have been free today,” he said.
Chipping in, his son said that the elections were no solution to the Kashmir dispute that has consumed over 100,000 lives in the last two decades. He said that India projects elections in Kashmir as the substitute to the right of self-determination.
“We have to realize what harm every vote is doing to our freedom struggle. Voting and fight for azadi can’t go together. It’s high time we realize our mistakes and take a pledge to safeguard the sacrifices,” he said. “I didn’t vote because of any call from pro-freedom leaders. I did so to satisfy my conscience. No person with conscience will vote for the killers of our brethren,” he added.
Abdul Rahim, who has been working as a watchman at the Islamia High School from the last nine years, told Kashmir Reader that he has hardly spotted any voter during the previous elections at polling booths established in the school.
“In last elections, 60 votes out of many thousands were cast. However, this time, no one has turned up. The old city residents tear the voter slips in pieces whenever the elections get closer,” Rahim said, as the SSB personnel deployed at the school look on.