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Under the shadow of khaki and guns is no democracy

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Although Pakistan must be jubilant over the decision to exclude the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir state assembly from the polls scheduled for April and May, it is difficult to see what else the Chief Election Commissioner could have done. An understandably disappointed Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister, calls Sunil Arora’s decision an “abject surrender to anti-India forces” and “a crying shame”.

But would elections, if held, be free and fair? Certainly, this is one state where the magic and mystery of “surgical strikes” into Pakistan will not garner votes for Narendra Modi as his sycophantic followers – Adityanand, for instance – seem to think.

Democracy under the shadow of khaki and guns is no democracy. It is tragic that Kashmir should be reduced to this pass but there is a limit to the number of soldiers that can be mobilised for one state when the entire country is going to the polls. The request earlier this month by all the political parties in the state for simultaneous polls for both the Lok Sabha and the state assembly would certainly have been ideal but there was no guarantee of security for the exercise.

The CEC has a plausible point when he says that having to hold the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency election in south Kashmir, where militants are active, in three phases makes the situation “complicated” and that the “security of candidates” cannot be guaranteed. Troop movement from one threatened constituency to another is bound to be severely hampered.

Given the absence of public cooperation in a state that has been under President’s rule since December when six months of Governor’s rule expired, and widespread distrust of the authorities, electioneering cannot be........

© Free Press Journal