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End of a Lie

End of a Lie

Author: Editorial
Publication: India Today
Date: September 30, 2002

Introduction: Faith in the democratic process triumphs over fear in Jammu and Kashmir

The idea of Kashmir is steeped in stereotypes. A land without justice where democracy has no relevance. An abnormal society where the guns and grenades of Islamist militants are matched by Delhi's iron fists that control and intimidate. Kashmiris, those wretched people hopelessly trapped in one of the most dangerous places on earth, feel no national or emotional affinity towards India... Such stereotypes thrive when Kashmir is merely an "issue", a "problem", a "dispute" in which Kashmiris, their aspiration and their hope, occupy the last row in the hall of received wisdom. Last week, a little sabotage, for a change engineered by Kashmiris themselves, took place and the stereotypes were thrown aside. It sent out a big message to the entire nation and beyond: Kashmir is not a lost society and Kashmiris want to overcome. What else could have been the meaning of the first phase of elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly? Statistics from Kashmir may have ceased to excite the rest of the country. But take note: the percentage of voting in the 26 constituencies was a remarkable 51. And it was not a normal election as such: the separatist Hurriyat Conference boycotted it, two candidates and scores of political activists were killed, militants threatened the voters with dire consequences. The situation has given the turnout a value that is more than numerical.

It was a redeeming show of faith triumphing over fear. This faith in the democratic process has exposed, so eloquently, the lie that those who kill in the name of God are doing so for the freedom of Kashmiris. Those foot-soldiers of radical Islam, funded and motivated by the dictator across the border, pretend they have the copyright over the conscience of the people. They did their best to ensure the people of the state don't reveal their conscience. Their sponsor in Islamabad, whose very existence as ruler is a mockery of democracy, even called the elections a hoax. What a joke! They all misread the Kashmiri, who aspires to be the arbiter of his own political destiny-like any other Indian anywhere in India. Kashmir certainly needs a resolution, and it cannot be achieved at gunpoint, and it won't come out of any negotiations with the enemy who needs the Kashmir slogan for his political existence. It has to be a democratic resolution-and Indian. The ongoing election, even if it is not fully representative, shows that is what most Kashmiris want.

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