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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 2, January 24, 2009

On Kashmir and Palestine

Monday 26 January 2009, by Humra Quraishi

All these days I have been reading one report after another on the recent elections held in the state of J&K. I was in the Valley as the results came trickling in and though volumes can be written on the very reactions to these results and the post-mortems that got going, three or four factors loom large. For one, a substantial percentage voted. And though there have been cries of rigging and bogus voting but people—especially in rural pockets—did come out to cast their vote. Maybe a small percentage of these voters had been naïve enough to have believed that this voting and with that getting a local representative, could cry a halt to their everyday problems, but, then, most do know the grim realities of governance and what it has to offer. Whilst talking to a cross-section it became stark clear that people do want an end to the very feeling of being “policed”, that constant and overpowering military might hovering around and relaying a sense of unease. After all, it’s not a healthy sign to have military presence amongst the civilian population.

And though there was a feeling of relief spreading out as Omar Abdullah’s name emerged as the Chief Minister of the State, also spreading out were those lurking strains of insecurities— whether with all his earnestness he would be allowed to deliver. In fact, by and large, people felt that Omar Abdullah seemed earnest and well-meaning, but, then, would he have the very freedom to govern, would he be allowed to pay heed to the grim ground realities? All this in the backdrop of some crucial underlying factors— the set-up in New Delhi, the politics of the top brass of the Congress, the country gearing up for elections, and, of course, the very crucial factor of world politics with America calling the shots. Directly or indirectly.

Not just here, in our country, but, perhaps, the world over. See the brutality of force being used in Palestine, with America giving the virtual go-ahead… In fact, as the small screen kept splashing shots of the US President-elect Barack Obama playing with his two young daughters one wondered whether he is aware of hundreds of Palestinian children lying dead and injured in these latest round of Israeli attacks on the Gaza belt. If he is aware then doesn’t his inner voice yell out to cry a halt to these murders taking place with the direct go-ahead from America?

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