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The byelection to the Srinagar Parliamentary seat recorded a miserably low turnout of 7.14 per cent, the lowest ever recorded in any Lok Sabha polls in the State. This reduced the representative electoral process to just a farce. The poll eve violence alone cannot be blamed for this unusually low voter turnout. 

The byelection to the Srinagar Parliamentary seat recorded a miserably low turnout of 7.14 per cent, the lowest ever recorded in any Lok Sabha polls in the State. This reduced the representative electoral process to just a farce. The poll eve violence alone cannot be blamed for this unusually low voter turnout.

The high degree of people’s participation is often cited by India as an evidence of the Kashmir people’s resolve to be part of this nation despite the sinister designs of separatist forces. India often refers to high voter participation to drive home the point that separatists have no public support.

But, such a low voting may legitimise the claims of separatists and their mentors and abettors across the border.

The situation in Kashmir cannot be addressed only by rejecting the US offer to mediate. Trump dispensation’s new-found enthusiasm to meddle in the issue that India firmly believes to be a bilateral one is certainly preposterous. India has rightly rejected the offer as it always held that there is no room for international mediation in resolving Kashmir dispute.

Kashmir is an integral part of Indian union. As argued through these columns many a time, its accession to India is complete and irreversible. The only thing that still remains to be done is to regain India’s control over Pakistan occupied parts of Kashmir.

The United States before dreaming to intervene in the South Asian imbroglio should realise that Pakistan is the cause of the problem rather than part of the solution as Washington believes. The unresolved Kashmir question is a result of Pakistan pursuing export of terrorism to India as its foreign policy option.

The United States which claims to vanquish Islamic terrorism should forthwith declare Islamabad as a terrorist State and give up its foreign policy duplicity of drafting this flawed state into its coalition for war on terror.

However, this alone does not suffice. The internal conditions in Kashmir valley that provide fodder for insurgency to thrive and seek support from across the borders need to be addressed.

Unfortunately, the political parties are increasingly getting reduced to paper tigers. The growing sense of deep-rooted alienation among Kashmir populace, especially among the youth, cannot be addressed by mere army action.

The orchestrated campaign against the Article 370 by the present dispensation in New Delhi is further sowing the seeds of discontent and disgruntlement. The nation has to appreciate and respect the special historic circumstances in which Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Indian union despite adverse international and regional climate.

The Constitutional promises to the people of this sensitive border state need to be sincerely adhered to. This can only be possible by restoring the much-eroded autonomy.

A political dialogue should be revived to grant the state autonomy within the constitutionally permissible contours, respecting India’s integrity and sovereignty.

Urgent confidence-building measures are required. A comprehensive bilateral dialogue with Pakistan that encompasses all the outstanding issues including cross-border terrorism and Kashmir should be initiated.

India’s internal security and sovereignty is non-negotiable. But, this can be strengthened through a political process and people’s participation.

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