BLUNT BUTCHER / ANCHOR
JAMMU: Preferring political hibernation over testing ground waters ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha and possibly Legislative Assembly elections, apart from strengthening democracy at grassroots level, some of the pro-active leaders of the Kashmir centric mainstream parties have lately unleashed a sinister vilification campaign against the contests to Urban Local Bodies (ULB), especially in the Valley. The overall narrative remains that the candidates have been lodged in police lines or other secure places to avert the backlash of terrorists and separatists, aided and abetted by rogue state of Pakistan. A few leaders are complaining about some non-entities being thrust upon the people. Of late, this campaign has touched lowest depths with the self styled leaders mocking contestants in social media and in media statements.
The question arises as to why the ULB contestants should be mocked for remaining under the security cover. They should, in fact, be hailed for plunging into the electoral arena, braving threats of terrorists, intimidation of separations and now the tantrums of the so-called mainstream. The latter class of the anti-democracy and anti-peace saboteurs has stepped up tantrums with the culmination of all the four phases of the crucial polls this evening. That the just concluded ULB polls in the Kashmir Valley have passed off peacefully with no incidents of violence is a reality. The two causalities of National Conference workers remain shrouded in mystery. Had terrorists made these two innocent workers scapegoat to terrorise the contestants? Anyway, successful conduct of the polls is a huge embarrassment for the mainstream parties, which are negating the poll process as sham and meaningless with little participation of voters in several segments. About the brisk polling in various areas, they are maintaining silence. Also, they are forgetting that despite active participation of National Conference and the PDP in 2017 by-elections, just seven per cent votes were cast in Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency and polls to the Anantnagh Lok Sabh seat cancelled due to escalated violence. This did not happen now, much to the discomfort of terrorists, separatists and the mainstream,
Ironically, the prospective corporators and councilors are being criticised for remaining under the thick security blanket by those who can’t dare venture out in their constituencies and areas without PSOs, escorts and bullet proof vehicles. They simply can’t sleep in their homes, even in security zones or secured Jammu, without guards posted at their residences. Some of them remain confined to fortified fortresses. Most of them are so scared that they keep posturing soft-session to remain in the good books of Pakistani rogues.
In a couple of days, the results of the ULB elections would be out. The winners will thereafter be engaged in the process of electing Mayors and Presidents or Chairmen of their respective civic bodies. This is going to unnerve the Kashmir mainstream, which treats power as their birth right.
The tantrum hurlers have created a situation where in the bold and brave contestants to civic bodies will require adequate and foolproof security for keeping the banner of democracy aloft in Kashmir. The State cannot escape its responsibility towards the security of the winners and their families. Being placed at the grass root level, they may probably require more security than the lawmakers, former ministers and the various other leaders, who have had enough of PSOs, secured accommodation, vehicles with fuel and other concessions in the name of political process during the past three decades. This process has now taken a crucial dimension, resulting into emergence of a new class, which is to be protected from Pakistan unleashed blood-hounds and lackeys active across all over in different jargons.
The security of a corporator and a councilor is paramount in a very hostile situation, as the radicalised youth are drawing maddening crowds after their elimination. The situation is very scary, grave and grim. The abductions of policemen and their family members and subsequently a few killings have horrified the atmosphere. This calls for extra caution with regard to security of the grass root level representatives, no matter the number of votes they have polled. In no way, they are lesser mortals than some of the parliamentarians and legislators, who too have got elected on low percentage. This has been a standard trend of Kashmir elections post 1996. Therefore, the agencies connected with security of citizens must draw a viable strategy to secure the public spirited representatives, who plunged into process at the peril of their lives. They are precious enough for democracy.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper