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Restless Kashmir now following the footsteps of peaceful Punjab?

Restless Kashmir now following the footsteps of peaceful Punjab?

Author: Mranalini Nanivadekar
Publication: Mumbai Tarun Bharat (Marathi daily - Translation)
Date: September 19, 2002

The inert atmosphere is now charged with enthusiasm.  The guns of Security forces was patrolling the roads without any people.  Now their sharp lookout (Karare Nigahe) are watching the propaganda vehicles speeding on the roads (with banners, slogans etc). The shops selling Kashmiri articles are yet having frigid turnover.  But now at least they have some subject to discuss.  The impossibility of Kashmir's return to normalcy has now changed into a possibility. Thousands of unemployed youth are rejoicing on having their throat dry by shouting slogans. People from all parties have now started using the language " Ballot will reply to Bullet".

With the figures of voting in the first phase pouring in, the reaction being expressed in this city is that now it is proved that people desire change. Jammu is away from the happenings in the valley, but concern was being expressed over the small percentage of voting in Baramullah but on the huge percentage of voting in the restless areas like Koopowara, Kargil etc. cheered the Jammu people to no end.

Salim is an ordinary Riksha operator in Jammu.  He was telling, "In my young days, I was witnessing our everyday prospering business; now days and days pass in waiting for hire."  The rich trading community from the Purani Mandi sitting in the shop of Annan Gundecha was expressing the same feelings.  "Azadi kis cheeska naam hai, hum jaanate nahi, hame to rozi roti chahiye" (We do not know what is Azadi,  we just want our bread and butter). These words spoke volumes.

People are angry over the governance over  the last many years. Central Government or State Government, nobody has thought of the problems staring at the Kashmiri people.  That is their general feeling. In Jammu and Kashmir, there is no employment, electricity, roads, and there is no money in Government treasury. People's sentiment is "Now, change all this". Is this sentiment token of mandate against the current National Conference ? Although the journalists' answer is in positive, the fresh face of National Conference, Omar Abdullah does not agree. Omar who had returned from Srinagar was speaking to 'Mumbai Tarun Bharat', "The only party which has state-wide recognition is National Conference.   It is definite that the huge turnout to our meetings indicates the mandate that people accords us.  When our party came to power in 1996, the voting percentage was 1996."  Of course, it is now being said that those figures were false and deceptive. But it is clear that people have got disgusted with the Papi (Sinning) Farooq and hence Beta (Son) Omar has been brought forward. However, in the changed circumstances, huge crowds are turning out for the processions and meetings.

The Kashmiris who have been called inerts, are attending the meetings. Central Minister Sushama Swaraj's meetings were huge, but the meetings of the Congress leader Ambika Soni were also large ones.  The meetings of the Shivsena leaders who have stepped in the ring for the first time, are also getting considerable attendance. Crowds, slogans, flags and speeding vehicles other than that of security forces, are the subjects of discussions all around. Jammu away from the valley is today partaking the joy of elections just like any other parts of India.  Chief Offices of parties are joyous over the news from various places.

Do not go for voting - Hurriyat's propaganda

Hurriyat is restless due the voting that has taken place in the valley. Now its organisation is going to canvass from door to door telling people not to vote.  But, the administration,  now happy over the response in valley has undertaken the campaign of targeting terrorists. Yesterday, 6 terrorists were shot in Doda-Rajouri  area.  Of course, the terrorists have proved their aggressiveness by attacking the Congress Office in Srinagar. But the Kashmiri people refusing to obey the boycott appeal of Hurriyat are giving respite to the Central Government. International community is also expressing satisfaction.

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