On Sunday eight young men were killed by government forces and many more are nursing bullet wounds in hospitals. On the same day the State’s narrative surrounding elections in Kashmir suffered a deflating blow as the people began responding to the structural meaning of ‘democracy’ in their collective political life. But apparently, it’s not the killing and maiming of citizens that bothers the minders of the structures of ‘governance’ in Kashmir. The uppermost worry seems to be how to keep what the last Sunday means under wraps for the outside world.
The ruling PDP has already started asking for cancellation of polling for Anantnag parliament constituency due for Wednesday. All that the chief minister had to say about the latest killing spree was that she was anguished at the death of the eight youth ‘who had yet to understand the intricacies of the issues’ in Kashmir. Such is the deliberate ignorance within the ruling party that its first-time candidate wants us to believe that he didn’t know how angry the people in Kashmir were, forget about what they are angry about.
Thirty years of living with extremes of militarisation, death, destruction and unprecedented uncertainty has revealed to the people in Kashmir that the politicians who ‘represent’ them worked for obfuscating their reality, making sure it has no purchase anywhere. The Sunday’s lowest recorded poll turnout should be read as an absolute of rejection of their politics of misrepresentation and its direction of accountability.
That politics has left the death and destruction so normalised in Kashmir that customary statements of regret and anguish is where the mainstream politicians’ concern ends. The main body of the ‘mainstream politics’ in Kashmir always appears to be accountability towards New Delhi than the people who solely through elections become the wellsprings of their ‘power’. Now that the latest day of polling signaled the people finally responding to politics of deceit and power in the most emphatic way so far, the politicians appear worried about losing the narrative that has been carefully constructed since the first election of 1996 was held after the eruption of insurgency.
It appears to have reached a stage in Kashmir where there is little difference between what the state does, for what purposes, and how the people understand and respond to it. Instead of continuing to go the same route the ‘mainstream’ politician would do well to acknowledge the ground reality and the people’s legitimate desire for undeniable political rights in order to redeem themselves and turn a page in the bloody political history of Kashmir.