In Kashmir, efforts on to restore democracy and reduce trust deficit

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Srinagar: Discarding bullet, the Kashmiri people expressed faith in the power of ballot and democracy during the recently concluded District Development Council (DDC) elections which witnessed three way contest between Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), and People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) that could redefine the way Jammu and Kashmir has been for the past many decades.

Swayed by the false promises of traditional Kashmiri leaders for years, there was an increase in the number of voters especially the youth, who realized the power of the ballot. They came out of their homes to vote for the leader of their choice who would carry out ‘real’ development beyond the issues of road, electricity, and water.

Though the pain of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A which deprived Jammu and Kashmir of special status was felt among a section of Kashmiri’s, yet they voted with confidence and incontrovertible evidence of Pakistan trying to disrupt the electoral process.

“Even today, in the 21st century, their (traditional Kashmiri leaders) politics revolves around providing just the basic amenities like electricity and water and they never go beyond it,” said Khubaib Mir, former President of J&K Students Association.

Stating that though they were in power for long and had yet not achieved anything for the common Kashmiri, Mir suggested that there should have been a fisheries plant in the Dal lake for the Hajin community, the farming community should have been given enough infrastructure for growing vegetables.

“But they don’t talk about all these, they don’t let us even think beyond brass tacks, they don’t have anything to lure the voters, some still make tall promises of reinstating Article 370 and 35A if voted to power in the DDC elections,” he said.

Talking about how the militants had been picking off the faithful’s and followers of Sufi saints whom they think would swerve away from Islam and how they tried to erase the Sufi culture from the valley, Farooq Renzu Shah, chairman Kashmir Society said that in the past seventy years, the radicals had set ablaze the libraries of Dargah, Char Sharif, Bulbul Sahib and had burnt over 72 lakhs books of Sufi culture and literature.

“They tried to erase the Sufiat which was once predominant in the region, people were forced to stay away from their religious places due to misconceptions about Sufism, music was forbidden, the radical players were promoting radicalism. But now, the biggest change I see is that once again people especially the youth of Kashmir are talking about Sufi culture, they talk of unity, oneness, they believe that Sufism was inclusive culture,” he said.

Blaming the successive governments of playing vote bank politics for their vested interests, he said, “For the past several years, the radical culture had been predominant and even the previous regimes had been encouraging the radicalism for their vote bank politics.”

With pain and sadness in his eyes, he pointed towards a terrace saying that there was the place where once used to be the rendition of sacred Sufi music every day. “Things will return to normal,” he said.

Hoping for the return of tourists to the valley, the common Kashmiri’s who earn their bread and butter through tourism are praying for normalcy and a flourishing tourism season in the new year.

Jammu and Kashmir, Kahwa

Stating that Kashmiri ‘kahwa’ was one of the most popular hot drink of tourists, Wasim Khan working at more than a century old restaurant, Adhoos in Sri Nagar, showed ‘Samovar’, a traditional metal container for making ‘kahwa’ and tea. He explained how they add charcoal in the fire container of the ‘Samowar’ and water and ‘kahwa’ ingredients were poured in the space around the fire container which keeps it pipping hot.

“It just takes a few minutes to make ‘kahwa’ and it’s one of Kashmiri treat only keeps one warm but also helps maintaining good health and boost immunity” he said. He was of the view that of late, a few tourists had started arriving in the valley and expressed hope that after the DDC elections, their footfall will increase.

Devotees started coming to historical the Shankaracharya temple to pay obesince after the opening of teh temple. Zail Singh head priest of the temple said that after COVID, people did not come for some time because the temples were closed from March till August. Now People have again started coming.

There are also a few who openly vouch for the benefits which the Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed when it had the special status due to Article 370 and 35A resident of Chewa village near Sri Nagar who said he had voted to PAGD candidate wanted reinstatement of Article 370 and 35 A.

But the majority of Kashmiri’s are hoping for a wave of development and doesn’t hesitate in saying how they were being deceived by their previous political leadership.

“I am voting because I believe in a democratic set up, secondly, it is must for the development of roads, the supply of electricity, water etc. and we are voting to elect our representative that would not only develop the area but also resolve issues of our schools, hospitals, road etc said Gulam Mohaamed Mir, a resident of Ichigam

“All the political parties have so far deceived us on the name of Article 370, they used to take our votes and do their own development, not ours. And this is the reason why a lot of people come out to cast their vote” he said Gulam Mohhamed adding that they were voting to elect a candidate whom they believed would do the ground work to give them relief from red-tapism, bureaucratic hiccups and carry out development.

“We want the issues of road, electricity and water be solved once for all, we need schools and hospitals with good staff strength and facilities,” he said.

Stating that the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory was on its way to the realization of Prime Minister Narendera Modi’s dream B. V. R. Subrahmanyam IAS the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. he said the Prime Minister Modi had on August 15 devoted at least two to three paragraphs only on explaining to the people that they would have their own assembly, own chief minister and the the statement had come from the floor of the parliament.

“I think I would see that is the direction in which everybody is moving, you see, we have finished local bodies, we have come down to district bodies,” he said.

He said the electoral process gave him confidence that as and when the assembly elections would be held they would be able to pull it off and hand over the baton to the elected government

Expressing concern over the financial losses suffered by the Kashmiri businessmen, a manufacturer of papier mache articles Gulam Husian Mir, said they were expecting the government to extend a helping hand towards them.” We want the government to do away with the middlemen and brokers and should directly purchase items from us and market them” he said. He explained how, once a flourishing business, became a loss-making proposition due to non-arrival of tourists and suffered another setback due to the covid pandemic.

Fuming over the prevailing nepotism among the previous ruling parties in the Jammu and Kashmir Asif Rathar , a resident of Ichigam he said they didn’t want dynastical rule. “India is a democracy and this is why we are voting so that a true democratic set up emerge in Kashmir too, if a government fails to deliver its promises or come up to the expectations of the people then people had the right to replace the government, “ he said. But at the same time Asif said Kashmiri’s had not forgotten the August 5 when the Center government had repealed Article 370 and 35 A from the Jammu and Kashmir.
Informing as to how Pakistan and its agencies had attempted to foment the trouble and to derail the electoral process Dilbagh Singh IPS, Director General of Police (DGP), Jammu and Kashmir he said neighboring Pakistan had sent two terror groups to cause disturbance but both the groups were neutralized. “The credit goes to the security forces and the police to well in time neutralize whatever threat was posed to the security “ he said.

Saying that he was witness to the big democratic exercise taking place in Jammu and Kashmir, DGP said he had seen huge enthusiasm both among the candidates as well as among voters. “I appreciate the people for their cooperation and the parties also for their participation in the process and of course the security forces , together we have done a wonderful job” he said. Courtesy By: Namrata Agarwal zeenews

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