The separatist politicians, and their supporters in Kashmir have been taken aback by the massive voting by the people who have made it clear that boycott of democracy is no more an option for them. For the last two decades the separatist groups have managed to keep people away from polling station by issuing threats, propagnda, and the people too have expressed their disinterest with the political system. However, the advent of Modi, and his politics of development, and growth seems to have jolted the people out of the stupor, and it has also managed to break the stranglehold which the separatists had on the collective mind of the people.
Separatists in Kashmir Valley in the past have termed the low voter count as an evidence of the alienation of the people of Kashmir from India, and their rejection of the democratic process. However, the large participation in the electoral process has proved that the people in Valley are open to embrace real change, and want to be part of the Indian growth story which has been re-invented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The manner in which Modi galvanized the entire country has had a profound impact on the people in valley, and it is visible in the large turnouts at the hustings.
The high voting percentage is also a tight slap on the face of those who have been making claims across the world that Kashmiris have nothing to do with Indian elections, and electoral process. What has changed this year is that while Modi has galvanized the masses and motivated them, the change has also been on the ground as the grip of terror groups, separatists, and overground sympathizers has been considerably weakened across the state. It has become increasingly difficult to carry out terror attacks, kill politicians, and infiltrate from across the border particularly after the Modi government has upped the ante on LoC, and international border.
It would not be wrong to say that this election has finally witn’essed the end of the boycott culture which was propagated by the separatists, and enforced using strong arm tactics. What has surprised even most optimistic watchers is the fact that J&K witnessed 72 per cent voter turnout which is better even than some of the largest states in the country. Such high poll percentage say watchers is a clear signal that people want to be part of the democratic process, and they are enthused about change in government. With high participation of voters, the separatists now claim that voting has no relation with the alienation of the people, and they are committed to the agenda of the separatists parties. This has happened after years of citing low vote count as proof of their support among people of Kashmir, and also the rejection of the democracy. Another setback suffered by the separatist groups is that some of their leaders openly, and some behind the scene have shown keen interest in participating in the poll process. They have also realized that the lack of political power is not taking them anywhere, and if they get the mandate from the people they can raise their voice legitimately in all the platforms of government as well outside of it.
The silence of the separatist groups in Kashmir Valley further shows that they have realized that the mood in the state has changed, and people want to end violence, and get out of the turmoil. The changed scenario has also forced the Hurriyat, and other groups to observe a meaningful silence, and see how the events take shape. However, there is no doubt in the minds of the people in Kashmir that they had enough, and they now want peace, jobs, and development, and whosoever is able to deliver these will get the votes. They dont mind if it is the BJP, or the separatist leadership but promises must be kept, say the people of Kashmir.