Marginalizing the Elected representatives from working for larger integration and nationalism in Kashmir
By: Sofi Arafat
In my beautiful town of Aishmuqam, there is a visible fear that wider gap or disconnect between the masses and elected representatives may emerge soon if the situation on ground remained unchanged. This grim situation is caused by political and administrative restrictions on elected representatives – I being one of them.
There is no doubt about the fact that the administration has to ensure the safety and security of not just people but also the elected representatives, but a mechanism must be developed to ensure that the representatives are supported in their endeavours to meet, service, assist people and inspect their respective areas for developmental purposes.
We are aware of the fact that all protagonists in the past used an overpowering or boycotting technique that led to erosion of democratic values, electoral processes and public policies. Following the transition of power in J&K, elections for Panchs, sarpanchs, BDC, Municipal, and DDC were held for the first time in decades, and found great appreciation especiallyamong youngsters who took the lead.
By participating in the grass-root elections, we were painted as anti-Kashmiri by our fellow Kashmiri’s and now that we had won, it was time to prove them wrong. Our work should have reflected our commitment to Kashmir. But unfortunately the scenario on the ground suggests something else.
There can be no better time to remind the Central government of the solemn agreements that drove young people to participate in the grass-roots elections. From the current administration to ‘unidentified gunmen,’ we are being attacked in more than one way. The ensuing events are a paradox and seem increasing the void with countrybesides wreaking havoc on the lives of elected representatives.
Pertinently, if confining elected representatives, ridiculing them, leaving them to the mercy of unidentified gunmen, why did this country and the J&K administration urge and show us that all solutions lie in democracy and via political processes? It is saddening and unfortunate that even on Eid, the writer was restricted within four walls. What kind of deliverance will people expect from an elected representative who can’t even take his own son to the doctor in a health emergency? Such apprehension will get us nowhere and years of investment in democratic ideas, peace, and reconciliation aimed at connecting people will be wasted.
People have high expectations of elected representatives, and we, too, derive our power from the people and population. However, when we are bound and confined to four walls, how is it possible to connect people with one another? These actions are completely ineffective and will yield no beneficial results in the future if the Central and JK governments continue to treat public representatives in this manner. Political leaders are agents of democracy as the role of such people is to strengthen people’s faith in the system.
It’s not like I haven’t brought this issue with the authorities. I raised this matter with central government authorities and J&K officials, but it appears that the mainstream political space for young people in Kashmir has been methodically constricted, and no one has taken any steps to regulate the democratic space. It has now become more about the democratisation narrative.
I want to serve the people who elected me to this responsibility. In a democracy, a sense of freedom will bring us peace and the freedom to strive for the common good. Restriction and confinement will only lead to unease and a loss of faith. Our actions will reflect India’s presence in the valley, thus defeating any anti-national notions. I expect Central government and the J&K administration to allow us to work and connect with the people on ground and we are answerable to their questions, their questions for development, jobs, peace and prosperity. Allow us the democratic space to work together for larger integration, peace and prosperity in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, please!
The author is President, Municipal Committee Aishmuqam, Anantnag. He can be mailed at: email@example.com