Yes, PM Modi, Violent Bengal Polls, BUT… Peaceful Kashmir?!
Speaking to News18, PM Narendra Modi was heard pointing out that while every phase of polling in Bengal saw violence, in contrast, Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir were completely peaceful.
Yes, Bengal polls saw violence, quite like every poll in Bengal, over the decades – TMC goons, Left goons, and now, even BJP goons.
BUT, the take on the J&K Panchayat polls was startling. Here’s why -
According to the website Scroll.in , there was NO POLLING for 70 percent of the Sarpanch posts in J&K! These Sarpanch posts either had no candidates or just one candidate! So the election was conducted ONLY for 30 percent of the Sarpanch posts.
Yes, there was no violence, but can Modi’s takeaway from this actually be that these were peaceful polls? Sorry, sir, this was not peaceful. This was an induced silence. Silence instilled by fear, and silence instilled by anger and alienation.
Over the last few years, militants in J&K have strategically targeted Sarpanches. They have beaten them up, kidnapped them or their relatives. And killed them.
- Mohd Sultan Bhat – Sarpanch in Shopian district. Killed by militants in November 2014
- Ghulam Mohd Mir – Sarpanch in Sopore district. Killed by militants in December 2014
- Ghulam Ahmad Bhat – Sarpanch in Sopore district. Killed by militants in December 2014
- Mohd Amin Pandit – Sarpanch in Pulwama district. Killed by militants in April 2015
- Ajaz Ahmad Malik – a Sarpanch killed by security forces in November 2016. He was a Congress member. The Congress called it a fake encounter. He had been in police custody for two months.
- Ghulam Rasool Ganai – Sarpanch in Anantnag district. Killed by militants in October 2017.
- Mohd Ramzan Shaikh – Sarpanch in Shopian district. Killed by militants in October 2017.
And why look at just Panchayat polls. Let’s examine voter turnout for the Lok Sabha elections that just ended in Srinagar and Anantnag.
Srinagar had a voter turnout of 26% in 2014. This fell dramatically to 15% in 2019. That’s 85% of a population in J&K’s capital city that consists of government servants, traders, manufacturers, tourist cab owners, shikara owners – people we meet in Srinagar when we holiday there. They CHOSE NOT TO VOTE. So, yes, the streets may have been peaceful on voting day. But what kind of peace?
Anantnag saw almost 29% voting in 2014. This crashed to under 9% in 2019! That is 91%… 9 out of every 10 people living there, choosing not to vote.