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

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.

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