Amid tight security and call for a complete shutdown by separatists, Jammu and Kashmir went to poll for local body elections on Monday, 8 October – for the first time in 13 years. The Valley recorded a paltry 8.3 percent turnout, while over 65 percent of the electorate voted in the Jammu and Ladakh parts of the state.
While this was only the first phase of the four-phase elections, the Pakistani media, in their media reports and opinion columns, highlighted the house arrest of separatist leaders and spoke about deployment of troops.
Here’s how the Pakistani media covered the local body polls in the conflict-ridden Kashmir valley.
Elections Marred by Tensions, Call for Boycott of the Democratic Process: Daily Times
The Daily Times, in an editorial, wrote that in Jammu and Kashmir, even the addition of 40,000 Indian troops will not “help the legitimacy” of the local body polls, that was “marred by tensions.”
The column focused on the house arrest of separatist leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Ghulam Ahmed Gulzar and questioned the law and order and human rights situation in the state.
“It should be noted that Gulzar was booked under the 1978 Public Safety Act (PSA), a piece of legislation that the UN has condemned in its June ‘Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir. According to the report, New Delhi has failed to create a standard operating procedure for the PSA. Consequently, it is widely abused in IHK, and used to illegally detain people – including children – for extended periods.”Daily Times Editorial
Daily Times also alleged that the voters were unaware of the candidates contesting the elections.
“There can be no true democracy in an environment where draconian laws are invoked to arbitrarily arrest popular leaders, preventing them from partaking in the elections, or even from criticising them.”Daily Times
Shutdown in Order to Protest Elections, No Public Campaign by Any Candidate: The Express Tribune
The Express Tribune, quoting Radio Pakistan, said that “Indian-occupied Kashmir” was observing a complete shutdown “after calls from the region’s joint resistance leadership to protest local government polls.”
Sources have claimed that no public campaign was carried out by any of the eight candidates, details of whom are kept anonymous by the authorities for security reasons.The Express Tribune
The news report also mentioned that Sikh bodies including Sikh Intellectuals Circle, International Sikh Federation and Sikh Students Federation have also boycotted the elections.
Feigned Conduct of Local Govt Polls: ARY News
The report by ARY News claimed that the attempts to hold polls in the state of Jammu and Kashmir “failed as the locals boycotted the process.”
The news report blamed India for ‘clouding’ the reality of the elections by suspending cellular and internet services in some areas.
The article also quoted wife of separatist leader Yaseen Malik, Mashaal Malik questioning the election process and the deployment of troops for the same.
“What kind of elections or democracy is this? Where brutal Indian forces want to drag innocent Kashmiris on roads and setting homes on fire under the pretext of search operations.”Mashaal Malik to ARY News
(With inputs from Daily Times, the Express Tribune and ARY News.)