Mainstream politics faces a near ‘rout’ after abysmal voting percentage

The abysmal voting percentage during the re-poll on 38 polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency marks a near rout of mainstream politics in Kashmir.
The polls were carried out in tight security and even the army was deployed at some places to ensure incident free elections. In the areas which witnessed the polls today, including those in Chadoora, Srinagar and Charar-i-Sharief, people stayed away from polls, marking a new low in the electoral history of the state.
Hurriyat (G) spokesman, Ayaz Akbar, said that the “game is over for mainstream politics in Kashmir.” “The Indian politicians should shut down their shops in Kashmir and India should hold the referendum which has been promised to the people of Kashmir. The coercive means which have been used against the people of Kashmir have always proved to be counter-productive and sooner the Indian state realizes this, better would it be,” he said.
Not only did the voter turnout remain low during the day, the campaigning had remained subdued in both the Srinagar and the Anantang parliamentary seats. The scale of violence was unprecedented in the run-up to the polls and in the elections held on April 9 on Srinagar parliamentary seat, a voting percentage of only 7.3 percent was registered.
Noted political observer, Dr Shiekh Showkat Hussain, said that the low voting percentage is the vindication that the people have got disenchanted with the normal electoral process. “People have disproved Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti that only 5 percent of the people were part of the protests last year. This marks the alienation that the people have suffered,” he said.
Kashmir remained in the throes of crises after the death of HM militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani, and people had even damaged government property and resorted to the burning of schools. As per government estimates, 133 properties including 50 police stations were damaged in first 6 months of unrest in Kashmir after Burhan’s killing. Among the properties which were damaged include 35 schools, which were set ablaze, 50 police stations, 10 of which were burnt, and 46 other government buildings including Panchayat ghars.
Burhan Wani was killed after government forces worked on the intelligence input about the presence of 2-3 militants at Kokernag, Anantnag, following which a cordon was laid by police along with 19 RR in which 3 militants were killed. The other two militants were identified as Sartaj Ahmad Shiekh and Parvaiz Ahmad Dar, she added.
On April 9 while the protestors locked up polling staff at some of the polling stations, at least 8 employees were injured in the pro-boycott protests. About 48 buses were damaged among which two were torched in the poll violence.
The less turn out is also largely attributed to the atrocities which were committed by the government forces while tackling the Kashmir unrest last year in 2016. More than 100 people were killed while as thousands others were injured in the action by the government forces against the civilians. Hussain said that the less voting percentage was being reported from areas, which have been traditionally witnessing heavy polling.
“The abysmal voting percentage shows the alienation that the people have faced. There is a need for resolving the Kashmir issue as per the wishes and aspirations of the people,” he said. He added that the people had earlier casted votes to keep away the BJP. “ But after PDP joined hands with BJP, the alienation only grew stronger and this time even when the NC took up the same stance seeking votes against BJP people chose to observe boycott,” he said.

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