WITH most of the roads blocked and traffic closed in major parts of the state, elections are to be held in the second week of March. One is reminded of the Ides of March of Julius Caesar of William Shakespeare. The Roman Emperor was murdered by foes, including friends like Brutus, which forced the Emperor to lament “Et tu Brute” (You too Brutus) and in Kashmir, democracy is being murdered as it has been murdered during the past four decades. This time the rulers are not sure of themselves, road blockades, avalanches and snow. The writer remembers that when after winter vacations, the schools and colleges were supposed to be opened in Kashmir, the vacations had very often to be extended because the roads used to be frozen, there used to be snow everywhere and it was difficult to go to school. The climate of Kashmir is the same now, only the rulers have changed. Imagine the plight of Kashmir where only two weeks ago, housewives had to take out a procession in the streets of Srinagar, when they said they had no water to drink. Even the taps get frozen, and the Indian rulers who. are keen, and in fact have already succeeded, to make nuclear bombs, cannot provide drinking water to the people of a city which they have held by force for the last four decades.

All the world over, Kashmir is known to be a land of lakes and fountains, some of them hot during the winter season, but the people of the poor city of Srinagar cannot get water for drinking and cooking purposes. It is just like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner:

Water, Water, everywhere

 But not a drop to drink

So in this season of frozen taps and snowbound roads and fields, India, the greatest democracy on the surface of the earth, wants to have elections in Kashmir. Last time they were held in June, an ideal time for elections in Kashmir, because at that time Farooq had his own government. He was not on good terms with the Congress I, but now, he is a slave of India. What is more, the Congress I and the National Conference have a common cause to win elections by hook or by crook. Not much of what we call in Urdu “dhan dhandi and dhauns’ is possible in the month of June. But in March, anything can be done to the advantage of the ruling clique and to the disadvantage of the Opposite parties.

One of the main themes of the National Conference leaders these days, as always, has been to give the impression to the people of Kashmir that Pakistan has forsaken the issue of Kashmir. When Sheikh Abdullah, tired of his 22 years “wandering for plebiscite” wanted to compromise with Indira Gandhi for the loaves and fishes of ° power in the year 1974, he told the Kashmir that Pakistan had abandoned the issue of Kashmir in the Simla Agreement and it was no use for Kashmiris to fight for Pakistan.

Abdullah and men of his ilk are mistaken. The issue of Kashmiris becoming free did not crop up with the birth of Pakistan. The people of Kashmir who were subjugated by non-Muslims in 1819 and later on in 1846, wanted to be free. This was long before the idea of Pakistan was conceived. The struggle of Kashmiris is their own fight and has not been sponsored or inspired by Pakistan. The matter of the fact and the fact of the matter is that Kashmiris want to come out of the unwilling clutches of India and do not want to remain with the Hindu country. They every day see the condition of the Muslims of India, whose religious, economic and political rights have been crushed by the brute majority of the Hindus. Freedom is the birthright of a slave and Kashmiris have been enslaved by India. Therefore, whatever, Pakistani rulers think or do, whatever their shortcomings or difficulties, Kashmiris are not going to abandon their struggle.

India is obviously playing in the game of the Ostrich on the issue of Kashmir. She is fully convinced that Kashmiri Muslims are not with her. This is why she is afraid of the result of the proposed plebiscite. Her fear of Kashmiris’ freedom is such that she does not allow the Kashmiri people a free choice in the elections. She wants to have a farcical election in Kashmir and call it democracy. This self-deception is plain and simple. She cannot deceive the Kashmiris, she cannot deceive Pakistan and she cannot deceive the democratic world. If really no deception is involved, let India release all the political leaders and workers of Kashmir, let the two heinous laws namely Antiterrorist’s Law and the Public Security Act be done away with and let an announcement be made that elections would be held in May or June next and not in the freezing month of March. Let India see things for herself and watch what sort of Assembly is elected.

Poor Kashmiris have not got even that much freedom which exists in the rest of India. This is because they are Muslims and because their homeland is an internationally disputed territory. The results of the elections in Kashmir can have international repercussions. This is what forces the Indian rulers to rig and manipulate the elections in the Valley. They know that a free and fair “intikhaab” (elections) would mean an “inquilaabe” (revolution) in the state. Let us hope that the better sense will prevail and the champions of “Ahimsa Parodharma” democracy and freedom, will not grudge the Kashmiris a free choice in the coming elections. The coalition regime must also be done away with. This is the demand of each and every party of the state. Hindu and Muslim, except the two ruling groups of the National Conference and the Congress (I), who have been placed win power without any democratic or legal sanction.


Article extracted from this publication >>  February 20, 1987