Millennium Post

Major setback

Major setback

Besides Pakistan's insidious plans to destabilise Kashmir, the mainstream political class in the region has played a particular role in exacerbating tensions. In a major setback, the Election Commission on Tuesday cancelled the Anantnag bye-poll, saying the conditions in Jammu and Kashmir were not suitable to hold an election.

Earlier, the poll body had postponed the bye-poll to the Lok Sabha constituency to May 25. As stated in these columns earlier, the decision to delay the by-poll had come after widespread violence during a similar poll last month in Srinagar that left eight people dead and over 300 injured. In 2014, the state was relatively peaceful. Assembly elections that year witnessed a 66% voter turnout, compared to the 61% turnout in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. In the past two years, however, the state has nosedived into an endless cycle of violence marked by mass protests. It is evident that the situation in Kashmir has deteriorated to levels not seen in a very long time.

Former officers of the Indian armed forces have warned that unrest in the region is spiralling out of control. What we are witnessing in Kashmir is a political failure, not a military one. By and large, the Indian armed forces have achieved some major successes, especially in containing the number of terrorists and violence.

Unfortunately, since the unrest last summer triggered by the death of militant leader Burhan Wani, the civilian administration, led by the BJP-PDP coalition, has miserably failed to engage with the people productively and continues to ride on a military strategy which is useless against an alienated mass. This is not a problem relegated to the current ruling dispensation in Kashmir or the Centre, but a legacy of past attitudes. What we see today is more of the same. Matters have taken such a dangerous turn that mainstream political parties hold little or no sway on the ground. Party workers dare not step out anymore for fear of militant violence. All this has played into the hands of Rawalpindi.

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