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Vote without fear

High voter turnout essential for vibrant, inclusive democracy
12:00 AM May 09, 2024 IST | SHABIR IBN YUSUF
vote without fear
Representational Photo

For over three decades, the people of Kashmir have lived under the shadow of fear during elections. Secessionist groups often used to call for boycotts, instilling fear in the minds of the residents.


This fear resulted in low voter turnout, with many choosing to stay indoors rather than risk their safety. However, the recent turn of events suggests a shift in this paradigm, with Kashmiris showing a renewed sense of hope and courage to participate in the electoral process.


Since the late 1980s, Kashmir has witnessed a tumultuous political landscape marked by terrorism and unrest. During this period, secessionist groups called for boycotts of elections, labelling them as a tool of the Indian government to legitimise its control. This narrative created a deep sense of fear among the populace, leading to abysmally low voter turnout in many elections.


The recent years have seen a gradual shift in the dynamics of electoral participation in Kashmir. The 2019 Block Development Council (BDC) elections witnessed a significant increase in voter turnout, with many viewing it as a sign of changing times. This trend continued in the District Development Council (DDC) elections held in 2020, where Kashmir recorded its highest voter turnout in over a decade.


Several factors can be attributed to this change in Kashmir's electoral landscape. The successful conduct of the DDC elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic showcased the resilience of the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir. Additionally, the increasing disillusionment with the secessionist ideology and a desire for development and representation have also played a role in encouraging voter participation.


The increased voter turnout in recent elections has far-reaching implications for Kashmir's political landscape. It signifies a growing confidence among the people to assert their democratic rights and participate in shaping their future. Moreover, it challenges the secessionist  narrative that has long dominated the discourse in Kashmir, indicating a shift towards mainstream politics.


Despite the positive developments, challenges remain on the path to normalcy in Kashmir. The threat of violence and intimidation still looms large, deterring many from exercising their right to vote. Conclusion.


The increasing voter turnout in Kashmir will be a testament to the resilience and aspirations of its people. It reflects a growing desire for peace, development, and a stake in the democratic process. As Kashmir moves towards a new era of hope and inclusivity, it is imperative for all stakeholders to work towards building a peaceful and prosperous future for Kashmir.

In the ongoing elections, the people of Kashmir have a crucial opportunity to shape their future by participating in the democratic process. It is imperative for Kashmiris to come out in large numbers and vote, as their participation is not just a right but a powerful tool to assert their aspirations and ensure a brighter tomorrow.

High voter turnout is essential for a vibrant and inclusive democracy. It ensures that the elected representatives truly reflect the will of the people and are accountable to them. In Kashmir, where the political landscape is often overshadowed by conflict and unrest, a high voter turnout can send a strong message of resilience and determination to the rest of the world.

Despite the importance of voting, Kashmir faces several challenges that have historically led to low voter turnout. The fear of violence and intimidation have deterred many from exercising their right to vote. Moreover, the lack of trust in the political process and disillusionment with the authorities have also contributed to voter apathy.

Voting is not just a civic duty; it is a means of empowerment for the people of Kashmir. By participating in the electoral process, Kashmiris can demand accountability from their leaders, advocate for their rights, and shape the future of their region. A high voter turnout can also help in bridging the gap between the people and the government, fostering a sense of belonging and ownership.

The youth of Kashmir, in particular, have a crucial role to play in ensuring a high voter turnout. As the future torchbearers of Kashmir, their participation can signal a shift towards a more inclusive and progressive society. It is essential for the youth to realize the power of their vote and actively engage in the electoral process.

The elections in Kashmir present a crucial opportunity for the people to assert their democratic rights and shape their future. It is imperative for Kashmiris to come out in large numbers and vote, despite the challenges they may face. By doing so, they can send a powerful message of resilience, unity, and determination to the world, paving the way for a brighter tomorrow for Kashmir.

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