First Election Held in Srinagar Since Abolition of Article 370


Paromita Das 

GG News Bureau 

New Delhi, 15th May. A significant contrast to the little over 14% voter turnout in 2019, only 36% of Srinagar constituency voters cast ballots on Monday in the first election held in the Kashmir Valley since Article 370 was abolished, despite this being far lower than the national turnout. Breaking the clouds of apathy and fear that have obscured previous elections, this is an exhibit of enhanced democratic enthusiasm. Though praiseworthy, this rise in voter turnout is more than just a statistical achievement. It is evidence of the changing goals of a people who have long been caught in the crossfire of political unrest.

A combination of calls for a boycott, disenchantment with the existing quo, and acts of violence have contributed to low voter turnout in Kashmir for many years. Nonetheless, the surge in voter turnout points to a changing paradigm in which voices that were once muffled by conflict are now resonating in the halls of power. The Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided not to run for office in Kashmir, which says a lot about the intricate political fabric of the area. A multitude of tales, each creating a tapestry of frustrations, hopes, and dreams, are at the core of this electoral comeback. A more profound desire for socioeconomic justice can be found beneath the language of autonomy and inclusion. Voting becomes a lifeline for a populace struggling with the harsh realities of everyday life, rather than just a means for political expression.

During this electoral process, it is critical to acknowledge the complexity of Kashmir’s problems. The democratic process was severely hampered by the decision to withdraw Article 370 in 2019, which was followed by a strict lockdown and the imprisonment of opposition leaders. Some perceive these actions as essential moves towards reestablishing “normalcy,” while others regard them as a betrayal of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous aspirations. One thing, nevertheless, is evident within the clamor of conflicting stories: communication and healing are necessary. The moment for inclusive governance and a post-ideological democratic reinvention is now more than ever. One thing is evident as the dust settles on yet another turbulent chapter in Kashmir’s history: there will always be obstacles in the way of peace and prosperity, but they are not impenetrable.

In the future, democracy will not only be a transient ideal but rather a lived reality for future generations if we embrace the variety of voices that make up Kashmiri society. A new dawn, driven by the dreams of a people willing to write their own history, one vote at a time, is dawning under the shadow of the Himalayas. It is hoped that in the later stages of the election, voters in the two Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir Valley that are still up for grabs will look to Srinagar as an example.

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