by Farooq Ganderbali
Despite threats from Pakistan terrorists, repeated terror attacks and separatists calling for a boycott, people of Anantnag in south Kashmir have voted for democracy. If the turnout at the first phase of polls in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is something to go by, the intrepid voters of the district have defied the boycott called by pro-Pakistan separatists and ultras by coming out to vote in impressive numbers, considering the climate of violence and uncertainty gripping the region.
Impressive turnout of voters is a clear message of the people of Kashmir to terrorists that they will respond the bullets with ballots and will foil the nefarious designs of Pakistan and those who are working at its behest. With no big election rallies taking place before the first-phase polling in south Kashmir, the fear of terrorist groups was evident as at certain places people tried to hide themselves from the assembled media persons.
Terror groups such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen had threatened to kill those who vote and have asked people to remain indoors and not cast their ballots. Terrorist groups had issued threats to anyone participating in these polls, prompting political workers to stay away from campaigning and not hold bigger rallies.
The common people in Kashmir, particularly the youth, have seen through the hypocrisy and duplicity of separatist leaders who enjoy every government facilities for themselves and their families but want to deprive the common people from reaping the benefits of democracy. Kashmir’s main separatist party, Hurriyat Conference, has close links with terrorist groups and at their behest they order people to boycott the elections.
In large areas of the countryside where terrorists dominate, village headmen and junior revenue officials have been forced to promise that they would not co-operate with the election effort. In the last few months terrorists have carried out civilian killing brutally which were aimed at intimidating voters in a region that has had a high turnout in previous elections.
Terrorism has to be destroyed for development to take place and the very process of bringing democracy is to ensure foundational principle of basic rights of the people. 90 percent people in the state are willing to participate in the elections. On the eve of elections, terrorists and their supporters tend to create atmosphere of fear but common voters in Kashmir, comprising largely of the young voters, are determined to defy the diktats of terrorists, the promoters of terrorism, and become a part of India’s mainstream healthy democracy.
Today, India is looked upto as the world’s largest democracy. Every citizen and every faith tradition has equal rights. Going by the articles 25 and 26-27, every person has equal right to the profession and practice of his/her religion and conscience. In India, one can practice and propagate one’s religion without any discrimination.
by Farooq Ganderbali