Referendum is a decisive ‘No’

Rising Kashmir

Referendum is a decisive ‘No’

August 06, 2018

On Sunday, complete shutdown was observed in Kashmir following the call given by Joint Resistance Leadership and supported by trade bodies, civil society members, social action groups, Kashmir Bar Association, academicians, various socio-cultural organizations and others. Almost all mainstream political parties in Kashmir staged protests or cautioned the central government of any move that could be construed as tampering with Article 35-A, a hearing on which is expected today in the Supreme Court.

Although the political executive and the judiciary are expected to function and operate independently, yet a large number of people both in Jammu and Kashmir and outside the state believe that the Modi government has been influencing decisions by using legal ways supporting groups and NGOs who have been filing petitions on particular issues that also happen to be on the agenda of the political party.

Whatever the outcome, the state has already been pushed to the extreme. An increasing number of youth are joining militant ranks. Most of the militants that have joined or were killed by armed forces in the last couple of years are highly educated and even scholars. The local support for militancy is also growing as thousands of people attend funerals and even obstruct the operations of the armed forces whenever there is an encounter or militants get trapped. Despite warnings by police and army, the youth have not seized to protect the holed up militants to the extent that some received bullets than stay away.

The Sunday’s shutdown is a reminder of the resentment against the policy of the central government that has either been bypassing the state government or using it as a puppet government. Elections after the state assembly (2014 elections) have been abysmal with voter turnout not even reaching the double digit. Almost every party except BJP has spoken against the Kashmir policy of the central government including the coalition partner of the government PDP.

While Governor’s Rule has been imposed in the state since June 20, the assembly has not been dissolved. If the idea is to put the elected government on hold till the hearing and then bring them back in order to avoid the blame, it is a very bad idea on all counts. The writing on the wall is clear – when the party and alliance partner of the government is unable to face the crisis of staying put, the verdict of the people is thumbs down.

The contentious debate and raking up the issue has united all political and apolitical groups in Jammu and Kashmir. The message of “No” all across the state is like a referendum as it includes all sections, segments and groups.