Kashmir Separatists Rejoice Over Poll Delay

14 October 2008
Daily News & Analysis

Srinagar: Kashmiri separatists have found a reason to cheer. With the Election Commission (EC) declining to announce poll dates in Jammu and Kashmir, the separatists have won the first round of battle. Huge rallies coupled with daily street fights in Kashmir seem to have played their part in prompting the EC to postpone polls in the state for now though most political parties expressing their willingness to participate in the democratic process. More than 45 people have been killed since the agitation that started with the Amarnath land controversy and economic blockade of Kashmir, which was finally turned into a “pro-azadi” battle. “Nobody was going to vote in the polls. It is a revolution on the streets and New Delhi should accept it as a referendum,” said Mohammad Yasin Malik, chairman of J&K Liberation Front. The moderate Hurriyat Conference was more diplomatic: “We seek a permanent settlement of the dispute. Election or no election is a non-issue,” said Abdul Gani Bhat, the faction’s former chairman. Among mainstream political parties, PDP welcomed the move. But Omar Abdullah, National Conference president said: “Governor’s rule means more disconnect between people and the government. We believe if elections are not held in November they can’t be held before March due to the harsh winter.” But the BJP blamed the Centre: “The UPA government has surrendered before the separatists which ultimately reflected in the EC decision,” said Ashok Khajuria, state BJP chief.