After years of boycotts and suppression, Kashmiris’ enthusiastic participation in elections signals a desire to regain a political voice.

Fatima, 86, votes in her home ahead of the fourth phase of India’s general election, in Srinagar. | Photo Credit: SHARAFAT ALI


After nearly three decades, the bustle of elections has returned to Kashmir, with rallies and campaigns drawing much enthusiasm among people eager to cast their vote. This indicates that compared to previous elections a large number of people are expected to participate in polls this time. The rallies continued despite the killing of three militants including Basit Dar, “commander” of The Resistance Front (TRF).

From May 13 to 25, nearly 86.9 lakh people, including 3.4 lakh first-time voters, are expected to vote in Jammu and Kashmir to elect three Parliament members for three seats—Srinagar, Baramulla, and Anantnag-Rajouri—in the first major elections in the Valley following the scrapping of Article 370, special status, and statehood in August 2019.

The people participating in the election rallies say that the polls could prove a platform for the disenchanted electorate to vent their feelings. “Such vibrant and intense campaigning has returned to Kashmir after 25 years. My aged parents who have never voted before are desperately waiting to press the ballot button. The vote seems to be the only option left for the people to express their response to the ruling government and its policies,” Mohammad Asif, a businessman in Hyderpora, Srinagar, told Frontline.

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