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How The 1987 Elections Shook The Faith Of The Kashmiri People In Indian Democracy

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By Rayees Rasool:

Kashmir has always witnessed political drama during elections. The blame game of pro-establishment political parties against each other is not something different from other parts of the world. A fresh election entails beating the same old drums – revocation of AFSPA, PSA etc. Elections in Kashmir derive the gradual attention of the national media and various political parties.

Picture Credits
Picture Credits

The only ‘election’ that stormed Kashmiris out of their houses to get their nails painted blue, was the epoch of Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1987. Farooq Abdullah was declared the winner. The Muslim United Front (MUF) accused that the polls were rigged, and it is well acknowledged by the national and international media as well, resulting in wide outrage and disillusionment.

Insurgency in the valley increased in momentum from this point on, given the consistent failure of democracy. The MUF candidate, Mohammad Yousuf Shah, was not only falsely implicated in the allegedly rigged elections, but was also imprisoned, which led to the rise of Syed Salahuddin, the chief of the militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, currently heading the United Jihad Council. His allies, the HAJY group – Abdul Hamid Shaikh, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Javed Ahmed Mir and Mohammed Yasin Malik, formed the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

MUF was a cluster of all the socio-political and religious organizations who wanted to resolve the dispute by peaceful means. But the Indian government did not allow the movement to flourish. In fact, it rendered the movement directionless by caging its leaders and activists.

This is for those Indian journalists and political leaders who question the credibility of the Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders, and ask them to contest election to show their representative character. 1987 is the best example for them to get acquainted with the political situation in Kashmir.

The rigging of the 1987 elections stands testimony to the fact that Kashmiris have tried every peaceful measure to get the dispute resolved. Rigging the elections and caging the leaders, as discussed earlier, left the wave irrefutably vagrant, and left the masses feeling dejected.

The fateful rigging gave birth to an armed struggle. Kashmir witnessed the worst kind of atrocities in the 90’s. Fake encounters, custodial deaths, rapes, torture, enforced disappearances, massacres, burning of villages, and what not! In the name of collateral damage, thousands of houses and business establishments were destroyed.

Had the Indian state been sincere in its efforts, and helped in conducting free and fair elections in 1987, one has strong reasons to believe that the political scenario in Kashmir would have been different. From participation in elections to peaceful demonstrations, Kashmir has tried to get out of the dispute. The people of Kashmir will continue this struggle till it reaches the logical culmination.

No one would in their right minds would support violence unless they are pushed to. After an armed struggle for almost two decades, and the sacrifice of one generation, there was a complete transition in the people of Kashmir, opting for non-violent, peaceful demonstrations in 2008, 2009 and 2010. However, the state behaved routinely, murdering more than 200 unarmed youth, which pushed some more youth to resume the armed struggle.

As the elections approach, a grand drama is expected to unfold. Though the elections under the supervision of the Indian government don’t hold any mandate over the political dispute of Jammu & Kashmir, still the Indian corporate media projects it as a legitimate mandate to India.

I would like to conclude here by addressing our demand to freedom. It is high time to chalk out a joint strategy. As elections in Jammu & Kashmir are approaching, Indian political parties are trying to divide people on communal lines. BJP is all set to make our legitimate struggle for right to self-determination, a communal fight. With the help of groups like NC, PDP and other regional parties, Delhi has always created confusion and a wedge between the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Time and again, these people change stands and divert issues for their petty interests.

We all should act against a united force that has taken a hard line stance on Kashmir, rejecting its own stands on Kashmir.

You must be to comment.
  1. Veer S

    a desperate attempt to legitimize terrorism, by creating a fake drama and emotional story to justify the act of killing of thousands of civilians by rogue militants.

    Why does a civil, democratic, peaceful and liberal society allows such sympathy letters to terrorist who show no mercy in butchering innocents ?

    1. SA

      Why would you call a rigged election, brutal killings of unarmed protestors an emotional drama?
      These are facts and not ‘created fake and emotional story’.

  2. Katrina Khan


  3. Pratik

    Mh yousuf shah claimed of the rigging of vote pattern in 1987. And when the claim were not looked into, they sought to ” peaceful protests “. I have a doubt here. If u so well accuse the central govt of involved of misguiding elections, how come Farooq Abdullah never came in terms of govt? Why is it so that he was never a puppet in govts hand. And now even his son Omar is reciprocating his thoughts by lining with whatever leagues and front. If MUF had come to power would the sutuation been any different? The answer and reason for the same is obvious. Its just that 87 elections are being made the scapegoat.

  4. Suman Mandal

    Kashmir dispute has been always been a multidimensional one.Th rigging of the elections was one mistake which plunged the entire region in chaos.It laid down the foundations for armed terrorism.Pakistanis were only waiting for this chance .this was the begining of militancy.However,the situation has turned somewhat better.this is the time things should be done properly.Jobs opportunities have to be provided.with improving law and order situation ,army can be taken off the streets in a phased manner.

  5. joy

    Hey Rasool , I absolutely agree with you, and I just want to tell that there are people in the mainland who support your cause. You might get vilified for speaking the truth to a populace whose nationalism and dogma cloud its judgement but nevertheless its important to speak the truth, and that Kashmiri resolve must continue. Being from the field of IR I also understand truth need not be spoken to power because power already knows the truth, whether its the case of Palestine or Kashmir.Good Luck.

  6. Sid mohanty

    Yes absolutely. And this is supposed to be the explanation and the true reason for the forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pundits. Right?

    Sir, every story has two sides and I am sure you will have a perfectly rehearsed reply for this also but, nothing, absolutely nothing justifies armed terrorism. There is no such thing as “good terrorism” or “justified violence”, so please for the love of God, stop playing the innocent victim. Indian administration has done some foolish things in the past and so have Kashmiri people. If we ‘Indians’ are dying in all this nonsensical violence then so are the Kashmiris. A bullet or a bomb doesn’t ask for one’s religion or place of birth before killing him. Stop justifying your “armed rebellion”.

    Kashmir wants peace and so does the rest of the country. You think we, as a nation, gain a lot by continuing this long running struggle. Times have changed and so have people. The time of Nehru or Farrok Abdullah has long gone. Today’s youth is not interested in what he did or what they said, we want peace, tranquility, complete and all-round development. FOR ALL OF US.
    So do your self a favour, come back to present and stop dwelling upon the past. If a peaceful solution is to be drawn then it has to start from sitting down and talking like civilised men, without a gun, a grenade, not even a stone. If you think that you want peace then here us some news for you, we want it too.

    With all due respect.

    Yours sincerely,
    Each and every educated Indian youth

    1. Asif Iqbal

      Dear Educated Indian youth in general and especially Mr. Sid Mohanty,
      I am really happy that Indian Youth is interested in knowing what all is going on in Jammu & Kashmir and why is it happening, since you have read this article it shows that you are interested.
      I won’t say anything about history as you rightly said lets live in present. Few facts
      1. Around 60 unarmed civilians were killed.
      2. More than 100 civilians may lose their eyesight partially or completely, thanks to the specialist doctors from Mumbai and Pune few more may be able to see.
      3. More than 3000 civilians (around 1500 security personnel) are injured.
      4. Internet(3G) has been snapped for 3 weeks for Jammu & Kashmir.
      5. Curfew is in place for most of the towns.
      6. There were molestation attempts by security personnel (I know you will disagree).

      I hope you will not disagree that there are people all over India who protest. How does security personnel deal with them, Killling?

      All human being want peace, but where is the peace.

      Did PM speak a word about unrest in Jammu & Kashmir.

      We people of Jammu & Kashmir always pray “Let there be peace” soon.

    2. Wanderer Awake

      Dear Sid Mohanty and Aruna Sharma,
      you have said about one side of the issue, but didn’t speak anything about the other sides. Both of you are saying religion as reason for movement in Kashmir. But what about AFSPA and PSA in Kashmir? What about the human rights violations happening in Kashmir? What reason you have to justify

    3. vijay anand

      Dear Asif Iqbal,

      I understand the atrocity that is happening, and as I speak to my Kashmiri friends they too point out same thing. But my question always leads back to origin of these off shoot of latest problems and lead to same point, WHY THE ARMY CAME in FIRST INSTANCE- something happend before these human rights issue started ,for which army had to be called in. Why there is no army in kerala / any other state just like that . I hope you will get answer if you go back the timeline when army came in , and that solves many of misconception going on social media, very easy to miss the details and emotionally engrage. We too feel sad and hope peace return and your army brother can return to barracks.


    Nice to know other side of the story.Fair elections would also have avoided Kashmir Pandit outflux and terrorism which is continuing till date.

  8. Arun sharma

    I would say, just wow for extraordinary writing, you should must be in film industry. Sad and Unfortunately this is just ‘a Beautiful LIE’, and alike a film stories, it has characters, situation and villain but it ends up in a fantasy.
    Just look into your Picture you have posted, Its has some communal faces (no need to address, I believe you can identify easily).
    If Kashmir or Kashmiri are really serious about the political sovereignty, first come out of religious hegemony and see the reality. There is no state in world, made on the religious basis (exception: Pakistan, and you must be knowing the situation over there). First bear the individual stand, later political stand and after that geographical stands. That is how state is born or made; ex: Cuba, Vietnam or most of Latin American countries; even India. Pakistan was again a candy gift to Zamindars and Nawabs of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from British.
    Religion cannot lead the political or social movement; it can support but cannot govern. Even if there would be any political struggle based on religion then the world community will never recognize, accept or support it.
    So dear friend get Allah out of the Kashmir movement first; if it exist. strangely, if there would be no Allah in Kashmir movement, then there would be no movement. So is this a struggle of ‘Allah is supreme almighty’ or ‘Kashmir as a nation’? Both thought stands completely opposite. Eventually you cannot unite them, and individually they do not exist. Thus Kashmiri freedom by mullah is just a daydream; the more you struggle the more it will become nightmare.
    Freedom is not a cup of tea, it’s a fight of individual intellect with collective oppression. As that is struggle between intellect and oppression, here intellect never dies and keep on struggling. That is how a freedom is attained.
    Jehad can attain only religious supremacy (in other words ‘unity of community based individuals’) not the political freedom. There is 1200-year-old history of Islam, find any single example where a country or state is setup by Jehad. Yes, there are examples that, in order to unite the state and its subject, Kings and religious prophets have used religion as an instrument, but its not a movement.
    We as common Indian do not believe that there is any movement in Kashmir, yes we do accept there are some political struggle is on between Indian and Pakistani government. There is no Political war by Kashmiri people exist in Kashmir. Not in our mind, not in our thought.
    Where is the Kashmiri movement of freedom struggle? Its only became a struggle of making Pakistani outfit in Kashmir.
    Where is the Auliya parampara of Kashmir?
    Where are the musical and art school of Kashmir now?
    Where are the school of thoughts and linguistic in Kashmir?
    None of these were ruled or governed by any Hindu or non-Kashmiri Indian, they were the historical assets of Kashmir. You have ruined your own culture and asking a political freedom from political superpower. Insane.

    Check yourself before checking, whether by own or by any collective mass power.

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