There was a time when the green of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would flutter in almost every street and alley of the towns and villages of southern Kashmir and people saw the party as the closest thing they can have to voice their aspirations.
Today the party workers can’t even openly admit to being associated with the party as the anger is so deep against the PDP. What really happened in the last nearly one year that the PDP went from being a popular party in southern Kashmir to being despised as one that doesn’t represent the people there anymore?
Kashmir Vision talked to some of the PDP voters to know why they turned against the party they voted to power.
Rafiq Ahmad is a shopkeeper from the Chatapora area of Pulwama. Since 2002 he has voted for the PDP for three consecutive terms. He said that it was the PDP’s track record of standing for the restoration of human rights in Kashmir that made him to vote for the party in the previous assembly elections. But for him the party now stands exposed. “I regret having cast my vote for PDP,” said Rafiq, adding that he would never cast his vote for any mainstream political party.
He said that during the National Conference-led government, the PDP would create a show of sympathy for the people by talking about human rights violations, all for gaining votes. “When in the opposition the PDP was wailing over human rights violation but now they justify the civilian killings,” he said.
After attaining the voting age, Shahid ul Islam, a resident of the Wahibugh village, voted for the PDP. He said that he cast the first vote of his life for the PDP because the party had banned the Task Force and had announced zero tolerance against human rights violations. Shahid feels the party has taken a u-turn. He said that Mehbooba Mufti, the chief minister, wastes no time denouncing army killings by militants while justifying the killings of protestors by the forces. “The chief minister ridiculed civilian killings of 2016 by her toffee comment,” he said, adding that the toffee comment exposed the true face of PDP as well as the character of Mehbooba Mufti.
Another resident of the area, Mohammad Amir, a government employee, said the party is struggling to survive in what was once considered its stronghold. He said that the party is missing from the ground fearing a backlash from people who voted it to power. “National conference was ousted from power because of 2010 civil unrest and PDP will meet the same fate for 2016 killings,” he said.
Manzoor Ahmad is a newspaper hawker form Pulwama. He became furious when he was asked what motivated him to cast his vote for the PDP in the previous assembly elections. “Get lost from here or stop talking about this party,” he replied with signs of anger visible on his face. “The party gagged the media and during their rule even pressmen are not spared,” he said.