Bullets, Blood, Boycott: How Kashmiri Media Read Srinagar Bypoll

Bypolls in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar turned bloody on Sunday as at least eight youth were killed after security forces fired at demonstrating mobs at three places in central Budgam district of the Valley.

Kashmiri media on Monday chose to pen their views on the significance of the dismal voter turn-out in the state and how Sunday was the beginning of an “epitaph for the purpose of holding regular elections in Kashmir”.

Action of Forces “Condemnable and Vile” – ‘Rising Kashmir’

Rising Kashmir did not mince any words in its editorial when it said that “the no-holds-barred action of government forces on the day when the foundation of a legitimate government is laid is nauseous, condemnable and vile.”

Also Read: Live: PDP Appeals to EC to Postpone Anantnag Bypolls

An excerpt from Rising KashmirFailure to acknowledge Kashmir as a political problem has ensued in wrong diagnosis. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark – choose between terrorism and tourism – apparently is an outcome of the same misreading of the Kashmir situation. It is also evident as governments have had the confidence to go ahead with political processes despite the 2016 toll, taking no cue from it. It is now the repeat of bloodbath in Kashmir with the lack of intent and will to restore permanent peace in Kashmir.

An opinion piece in the publication by Suhail Ahmad asserted that it “would be too naïve to draw a one-dimensional conclusion” on why the turn-out was low.

“Some may argue that it’s a mandate against India, but one cannot also deny that the boycott may very well have been aimed against the local pro-India politicians who conveniently shift blame to New Delhi to save their skin whenever public anger erupts in the Valley. This version gives the establishment an excuse of blaming separatists and their boycott call for sabotaging the elections,” Ahmad writes in the piece. 

Ahmad further asserted that what makes the turn-out even more significant “is the way successive Indian governments have used polling percentages in the past.”

“The Indian establishment has an obvious vested interest in securing high voter turnout in Kashmir to justify its rule in the Valley, even if it means employing manipulative tactics,” he wrote.

“Anger in Valley is Endemic” – ‘Greater Kashmir’

Greater Kashmir in its editorial attacked the government for its apathy towards Kashmir.

An excerpt from the Greater Kashmir If anything it once again underlines the ease with which forces can kill in Kashmir and get away with it, with least political or media outcry apart from a subdued routine condemnation from the Valley-based opposition parties and a hartal call from Hurriyat. Contrary to previous governments, this government doesn’t even pretend to order an enquiry. No wonder, the anger in Valley is endemic and the alienation is almost absolute.

“Epitaph For an Election” – ‘Kashmir Reader’

Describing Sunday’s events as the “clear beginning of an epitaph for the purpose of holding regular elections in Kashmir,” Kashmir Reader also wrote a strongly worded editorial.

“There is perhaps nothing bigger than this manipulative and coercive exercise between any desired change and the unbearable status quo,” an excerpt from the paper read.

“We could still ask the question: Is this a blip of a public response or does it really signal a major shift? An empirical answer to this question may be possible at the moment, but local youths joining the militant ranks after the killing of Burhan Wani and the consistent public solidarity displayed for the new militant during their gunfights with the government forces is an emphatic measure.”

“They Can’t Kill Their Way Out” – ‘Kashmir Observer’

Kashmir Observer on Tuesday chose to write a fact-based, measured, yet assertive editorial titled On the brink again about Sunday’s events.

“If Budgam can be so violent on a polling day, what about the South Kashmir. There certainly are going to be many more determined attempts by youth to take over the polling booths and it will be tragic if the government decides to kill in return, (sic)” an excerpt from the paper read.

The editorial also betrayed a sense of discontentment towards the government’s handling of the events.

An excerpt from Kashmir ObserverIt is time the Governments in the state and centre recognize that they can’t kill their way out of the deepening quagmire in Kashmir. Kashmir urgently needs a political outreach, not a security-centric approach.

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