Most parts of Indian occupied Kashmir were completely shut down today in response to a call by Kashmiri leaders to boycott Indian elections. They refuse to accept that they are part of India and have denounced Indian elections as a “sham.” They want a referendum to determine their own future.
Monday April 21, 2014, 17:57 DST
India has as fine sense of democracy. When Kashmiri leaders called for boycott of what they called India’s sham elections, the occupation forces quickly rounded them up. Others were placed under house arrest.
This immediately led to a complete shutdown in Srinagar. Shops, businesses, and educational institutions remained close today in Srinagar as well as in other towns and cities in Kashmir in response to a strike call by the veteran Kashmiri resistance leader, Syed Ali Geelani.
He has remained under house arrest for months because he refuses to accept Indian occupation of the state and insists on a referendum to be held in Jammu and Kashmir to determine the wishes of the people. He also issued a call to boycott the polls that started on April 7 and will end on May 12 in India. In Kashmir, these are scheduled to begin on April 24 and will be held in phases—on April 30 and May 7.
Turnout in elections in Kashmir is often minimal because people have no attachment to India and, therefore, faith in such elections. Since they do not consider themselves to be part of a political entity, they feel no desire or urge to participate in elections.
The Indian occupation regime while claiming to be holding a democratic exercise, indulges in horrible crimes against the Kashmiris. Death and other casualty statistics paint a grim picture of reality under Indian occupation. There are 700,000 heavily-armed troops in Kashmir. Since the start of the latest uprising in Kashmir in December 1989, at least 100,000 people have been murdered by the occupation forces. More than 10,000 women have also been gang-raped.
The people of Kashmir not only protest against such crimes but they also hold frequent seminars to highlight the plight of those suffering the brutal occupation.
Even their friends around the world have started to organize to highlight the plight of the Kashmiris. An International Solidarity Conference on Kashmir is scheduled for May 24, 2014 in Toronto, Canada at which a number of International speakers as well as civil society leaders will participate.
Last January, the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA), an umbrella group of more than 560 Canadian peace organizations, student bodies and other groups, passed a unanimous resolution in support of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. Such activities need to be broadened and taken on to university campuses to highlight the suffering of the Kashmiris and to expose the brutal nature of what is erroneously referred to as the “largest democracy” in the world.
The people of Kashmir have demonstrated time and again that they reject their state’s occupation by India and will settle for nothing less than a free and impartial referendum to determine their wishes.
A country that lays claim to being the world’s “largest democracy” is afraid to undertake this most democratic process. What kind of a democracy is India?