In the District Development Council (DDC) Elections held in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K), anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance won majority of the seats in polls. These elections have been reported in world media and widely criticized for Indian interference. Indian ruling party BJP used all tactics to get the majority of seats but despite interference and rigging, BJP badly failed in its plan. The local political parties that participated in the polls strongly opposed BJP’s interference and influence exercised in these elections. An alliance of seven local political parties of IIOJ&K, including National Conference of Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by former Chief Minister of IIOJ&K Mehbooba Mufti, has won majority of seats in the local elections, the first since New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomous status and took direct control last year. This alliance is made “People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD)”. It is pro-India but favors self-government in IIOJ&K. The alliance won 112 seats out of a total of 280 seats in DDC Elections, which were held in a staggered eight-phase process from November 28 through December 19, 2020. It is most pertinent to mention that the most popular political alliance in the IIOJ&K is All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) that has boycotted these elections, therefore, it can be said that the overwhelming majority of the population has rejected these elections. However, still the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced a blatant defeat even by pro-India political elements, which speaks volumes that Kashmiris are not willing to accept the Indian rule.
It is most pertinent to mention that the most popular political alliance in the IIOJ&K is All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) that has boycotted these elections, therefore, it can be said that the overwhelming majority of the population has rejected these elections. However, still the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced a blatant defeat even by pro-India political elements, which speaks volumes that Kashmiris are not willing to accept the Indian rule.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP won 75 seats. Independent candidates won 50 seats. There is a great resentment in Kashmiris against the Indian illegal action that annulled the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Pursuant to the said annulment, India split the Indian Occupied Kashmir into two federal territories i.e., Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir. In these elections, BJP flew some of its top leaders to the occupied region and organized dozens of rallies to bolster its campaign and broaden its base mainly in Kashmir Valley, but once again BJP miserably failed to achieve the desired political goals. Many of the BJP opponents in alliance accused the Indian government of using all nefarious tactics to prevent them from campaigning. The BJP was fully aware that the people of IIOJ&K are not inclined to accept Indian hegemony and they desire independence in every sense of the word, therefore, BJP adopted all techniques to give the impression that the elections are widely accepted as free and fair, however, BJP absolutely failed and was exposed at every forum and level by independent analysts and above all, even by pro-India politicians. For example, Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Indian Occupied Kashmir and an alliance leader, told reporters that the alliance was “born in adversity” and accused Narendra Modi’s party of throwing “the entire weight of the government of India behind their effort to defeat us”. He further said that the elections signaled rejection of the Indian government’s constitutional changes in Kashmir. Even India’s top leader and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram could not hide the truth and said: “Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of Kashmir Valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy”.
India’s ruling BJP worked to make these elections into a show of democratic practice but The New York Times reporter exposed it as a place still struggling under heavy-handed rule. The gruesome face of Indian hypocrisy and pseudo democracy has been unveiled yet again. The New York Times article “Kashmir Votes, and India Hails It as Normalcy in a Dominated Region” by Emily Schmall dated December 22, 2020 reports: “The election — a vote to choose rural development officials — was called suddenly, giving parties only a week to register candidates before the first round of the eight-phase polling began in November, political leaders said. Many prominent Kashmiri politicians and public figures remained in detention with no recourse or under threat. And hundreds of thousands of political workers for India’s Hindu-nationalist ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, traveled through the region carrying banners and signs, hoping to make a strong showing in a mostly Muslim territory where it has traditionally been loathed”. This report of The New York Times has exposed BJP and its unlawful activities to influence elections. It also reflects the extreme Hindu chauvinism and state terrorism.
For the last seven decades, India has been curbing and crushing the Kashmiris with its heavy handedness. The Kashmiris never accepted the hegemony of India and had been revolting against the Indian rule and domination of Hindus since 1931 when a Muslim leader Abdul Qadeer Khan announced revolt against the fascist regime of Maharaja Hari Singh, and was executed. In this regard, the eminent Hindu scholar and politician Pundit Prem Nath Bazaz wrote: “Historically and politically July 13, 1931 is the most important day in the annals of Kashmir”.
The first Premier of India Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, pledged many times to hold fair and transparent plebiscite in Kashmir but afterward refused to act upon UN resolutions on Kashmir and brazenly said that the solution of Kashmir dispute lies in delaying it. His theory of procrastination failed, when in 1989 the Kashmiris launched a gigantic movement “India Quit Kashmir”. Since then, the Kashmiris have given unprecedented sacrifices to achieve their glorious mission of freedom from Indian yoke. Their stand, slogan and stance is: “Long Live Pakistan”, as they believe that Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan are inseparable.
The people in IIOJ&K have continued to stand up for their rights and against Hindutva and BJP to ensure that the whole world knows that the people of Jammu and Kashmir want independence and are not going to accept BJP’s tyrannous rule. For example, The New York Times reported people saying that, “We would never want BJP to be in power in Kashmir,” said Kulsoom Chopan, 21. It further reported: “Activists say hundreds of people, including separatists, political moderates, civil society advocates and journalists remain in jail after they were swept up last year. Accusations of torture by security forces were widespread”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is giving the impression to the world that majority of the Kashmiris participated in DDC elections and that the Kashmiris have rejected the separatists and accepted democratic process under Indian Constitution. However, the reality is that this fake claim has been rejected by overwhelming majority of Kashmiris including by Hasnain Masoodi (former Chief Justice of IIOJ&K), presently a member of Indian Parliament from Mr. Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference, as he said: “We were not given a level playing field. There was no campaign at all. Most of the time we were either denied permission or senior leaders were confined.”
The father of Hasnain Masoodi was Maulana Masoodi, who was a staunch cohort and coterie of Sheikh Abdullah. In 1964, when Sheikh Abdullah visited Pakistan, Afzal Baig and Maulana Masoodi accompanied him. This group was pro-India, even their generations have enjoyed power in Indian IIOJ&K by collaborating with India. Therefore, Hasnain Masoodi is an established pro-India person, however, the point to be considered is that even these people are now speaking openly against Indian interference and hegemonic policies of the BJP. This statement of Masoodi nullifies the claim of Modi that democratic process has started in Kashmir or that it has popular support.
It is pertinent to mention that Kashmir “Intifada” started in retaliation of rigging and massive interference of India in the elections in 1989. Since then, a colossal and gigantic movement started against India but the pro-Indian lobby’s participation in Kashmir assembly elections held in 2014 saw a polarized and fractured mandate. PDP of Mehbooba Mufti that claims to be “Kashmir-centric” allied with BJP and formed the government claiming to protect the “Special Status of Kashmir”. She headed the government with BJP’s support. Her father Mufti Saeed had also remained the Chief Minister of IIOJ&K. Similarly, the chairman of National Conference Farooq Abdullah, his father, and his son also enjoyed the boons of governance as the Chief Ministers.
After August 5, 2019, Mehbooba Mufti was placed under house arrest from August 2019 to October 2020. For the restoration of the Special Status, she was incarcerated for more than a year and several members of the BJP called her a “terrorist”. Recently, in an interview, she was questioned: “The BJP government repealed Article 370, which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status in the Indian Constitution. Do you ever see the Article returning?” She retorted: “Nothing is set in stone, specially this move by the BJP government that violated the Constitution. They had no right to trample over our dignity. Undoubtedly, this is going to be long and arduous political battle. But it is one, I will fight”. Similarly, Farooq Abdullah is struggling to reinstate the “Special Status” of Kashmir so that his progeny enjoys the power. His father Sheikh Abdullah was a close associate of Pandit Nehru. But the time came when he was jailed on the orders of Pandit Nehru and he was called a traitor by the Indians. The autobiography of Sheikh Abdullah titled “Aatish-e-Chinar” (Blazes of Chinar) speaks volumes about his repentance for supporting India. However, once again times have changed, now these pro-India elements have also stood against India, which says enough about the ground realities in the occupied region that India has totally lost its support and the verdict of the people is loud and clear that is “India Quit Kashmir” and “Kashmir & Pakistan are Inseparable”.
The writer is an eminent author, poet, educationist and columnist based in Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]
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