Editorial: Kashmir’s imbalanced political space

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JK Bank

The followers of the mainstream electoral political parties in Kashmir wouldn’t have expected that the leaders they had faith in will be put under detention. For years, these politicians used detention and stringent laws like Public Safety Act (PSA) to crush any dissent against their rule. Today, they find themselves in subsidiary jails – for weeks, with a few sulking under the same stringent law. While the leaders are not able to find a way out, their workers – the foot soldiers, who propagated their idea of “self-rule,” “autonomy,” or “achievable nationhood,” are looking at a bleak future.

Kashmir’s history is tainted with political storms and surprises. The 5 August decision by New Delhi was another such surprise and shock to the political observers as well as the Kashmiri politicians. Voters who believed in the electoral process find themselves in battle between hopelessness and betrayal. They voted to strengthen the autonomy but the same has been finished off. For political parties like Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference, or People’s Conference, there is little or no scope left to present to their own workers – leave aside the general public.

As dozens of workers and politicians speaking to The Kashmir Walla this week say, there is a sense of fear, loss and worry too. But still some believe the decision for the future of their political parties’ path ahead will be taken by the leaders, once they are released. The question remains: Is there space for Kashmiri political parties and the politicians, whose politics, the cry for votes, was fueled by the idea of defending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir? From the current situation, and the recent developments, it seems unlikely that the regional political parties in Kashmir will be able to revive – without compromising with their idea of Kashmir.

The only revival of these political parties will be based on another compromise – more promises, and a weak thread linking them with their voters – but not common people, who have been bearing the brunt of political instability – for decades, and continue to be patient even in the challenging situations. However, the Centre has to give space to Kashmiris in deciding their political space, in every dimension, that will balance the region’s unstable situation.

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