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Epilogue because there is more to know

CONTENTS

www.epilogue.in Editor Zafar Iqbal Choudhary Others

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Mailing Address PO Box 50, HO Gandhi Nagar, Jammu

HUNG HOUSE? Volume 2, Issue 11, December 2008

IN FOCUS Phones & email Office : +91 191 2493136 Editorial: +91 94191 80762 Administration: +91 94190 00123 editor@epilogue.in editor.epilogue@gmail.com subscription@epilogue.in Edited, Printed, Published and Owned by Zafar Iqbal Choudhary. Published from : Ibadat House, Madrasa Lane, Near Graveyard, Bathindi Top, Jammu, J&K 180012 and Printed at : DEE DEE Reprographix, 3 Aikta Ashram, New Rehari Jammu (J&K) Disputes, if any, subject to jurisdiction of courts and competitive tribunals in Jammu only. RNI : JKENJ/2007/26070 ISN : 00974-5653 Price : Rs 15

Assembly Election 2008

11 12 15 19 20 22 23

Surprise For Many, Shocks For Others Vote against Azadi ? Not Really

Prologue Who Said What

3 4

Peace Process Concern US Elections

7 9

Report Trading Via Email Haste Makes Waste A Historic Initiative

37

Columns Vision From Valley

41

Prof Noor Ahmed Baba

Days Gone By

43

Prof. Jigar Mohammad

Srinagar Sentiments

55

Syeda Afshana

Story behind those long queques Kashmiri Pandits return to politics Atal In Kashmir

Ladakh Monarchs Still Exists...

46

Skarma Sonam Gya

What is on agenda ? Peoples Democratic Party Self Rule for lasting Kashmir Solution

25

National Conference Ready To Look Beyond Autonomy

26

Congress : To Rewrite Constitution For Empowering Regions

27 28 30 32 34

BJP : Making Jammu Epicentre of Power

Reviews Books

Defying The Sterotypes The ‘Lone’ Challenger Star Constituencies Headed For Hung Asssembly

For more News, Views & Analysis Log on to www.epilogue.in Epilogue Ø 1× December 2008

48


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JAMMU & KASHMIR POLITICS BUSINESS VIEWS & NEWS

CULTURE STRATEGIC AFFAIRS


P R O L O G U E FROM THE EDITOR

Time To Consolidate

Zafar Choudhary

A

ny election is essentially a game of surprise and shocks. It can't be an election if the element of surprise is missing. Till last month everyone appeared in a tizzy on holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Two strong reasons made the Election Commission, the Government and the parties wary –violence and the voter turnout. Two phases are over. More than 60 per cent of total electorate in 16 constituencies has cast their votes. Overwhelming! Well, this percentage is far above the national average of 55 to 58 per cent. Look at the constituencies like Gurez and Lolab in north Kashmir where turnout is going beyond 70 per cent. Agreed, that government put strong restrictions against anti-poll campaigners and locked almost all senior separatist leaders up but still if people brave the falling temperatures and cut their ways to polling stations through thick carpets of snow, what these elections should be called. Certainly not sham. Democracy has its roots in J&K, strong and deep. Violence, the major fear about elections, too makes an interesting story. There have been some incidents of violence in poll bound areas. But put together all incidents will not cross two percent of what happens in Bihar or even the sensible states like the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh on poll eve. This is how the two phases of polling have passed off and the exercise, spanning over seven phases, is likely to conclude like this. The trend has been set with surprises for many and shocks for others. All those who were wary of violence and poor turnout have been surprised by overwhelming response of people and

those who did not want people to vote have been left shocked. But there is a word of caution for both sides. Tremendous participation of people in electoral process should not be seen as a verdict on resolution of Kashmir issue. Government of India has often erred in the past by construing successful elections as signs of complete normality in the Valley. Look at the uprising of summer this year and then see participation of people in elections. The message from the Valley is very clear. People have conveyed that Kashmir issue and elections are two separate subjects which they would like deal with separately. Once these elections are over, the Government of India must make efforts to resume the sagging dialogue respecting sentiments of the majority which has vouched for Indian democratic system. Denial will again be delusion. People are now keenly waiting for outcome of the elections. Trends don't suggest any single party coming to power at its own. As it did in 2002, the New Delhi should keep away from fixing a government in J&K. Epilogue recently received few complaints from people in Jammu region that why state politics is always seen in perspective of Kashmir. We would like to clarify this. There can't be any stability in Jammu and Ladakh till completely restored in Kashmir. As long as this objective is pending we have to keep on talking about Kashmir issue. This is how we can contribute our bit. There is a time to consolidate gains of overwhelming public faith in democracy. Feedback : zafarchoudhary@epilogue.in

Epilogue Ă˜ 2Ă— December 2008

Epilogue because there is more to know

EPILOGUE aims at providing a platform where a meaningful exchange of ideas, opinion and thoughts can take place among the people and about the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The attempt is to research, investigate, communicate and disseminate information, ideas and alternatives for the resolution of common problems facing the state and society of Jammu & Kashmir and in the context of their significance to South Asia as a whole. We welcome contributions from academics, journalists, researchers, economists and strategic thinkers. We would also like to encourage first-time writers with the only requirements being a concern for and the desire to understand the prevailing issues and themes of life in Jammu & Kashmir Contributions may be investigative, descriptive, analytical or theoretical. They may be in the form of original articles or in the form of a comment on current events. All contributions have to be neatly typed in double space and may be sent to the address given alongside or e-mailed to the editor. While the editor accepts responsibility for the selection of the material published, individual authors are responsible for the facts, figures and views in their articles.


H E A R

A N D

H E A R

WHO SAID WHAT

In Verbatim ‘Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris', ASIF ALI ZARDARI, President, Pakistan, In reply to a question, while addressing Hindustan Times leadership Summit in New Delhi view teleconferencing from Islamabad.

''PDP will never come to Power because of the loss and tragedy caused by them in (Amarnath) Land Dispute' Dr. FAROOQ ABDULLAH, Chief Ministerial candidate of NC, while addressing media persons at the party headquarter in Jammu.

These elections are held under the shadow of the guns of 800,000 soldiers; it's a 'fauji drama' SYED ALI SHAH GEELANI, Senior Separatist Leader, while addressing his first press conference after return from New Delhi (for treatment).

‘N.C has reverted to its age-old tactics of deceit and emotional blackmail to grab power' MUFTI MOHAMMAD SAYEED, Patron, PDP, while addressing an election rally in Lolab, Kashmir.

As long as (Syed Ali Shah Geelani) is alive, Kashmir will not get freedom' SAJJAD LONE, Leader, People's Conference, while replying to the allegations of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, that he is tacitly supporting three election candidates in North Kashmir

Epilogue Ø 3× December 2008


Epilogue because there is more to know

For online subscription log on to www.scholarswithoutborders.net or just visit www.epilogue.in

Now Telling The J&K Stories


Why Epilogue ? Epilogue is perhaps the first scholarly, analytical and investigative monthly journal on Jammu and Kashmir which addresses important issues ranging from economy, politics and culture to security and strategic affairs in the region. Epilogue offers a variety of perspectives and plurality of approaches to meet challenges of future and present predicament of our society. Epilogue is collectively edited by leading editors and publishes original contributions from scholars, experts and journalists having a keen eye on Jammu and Kashmir. The journal reaches and further endeavours to reach all people in the South Asian region who contribute to policy formulation. Epilogue is backed by a network of journalists, media practitioners, academics, experts, researchers and scholars belonging to different parts of Jammu and Kashmir across both sides of the Line of Control. Epilogue has a shelf life that extends far beyond the news or event period covered; therefore, this journal becomes an important source of information and future reference on Jammu and Kashmir. Precisely, Epilogue is a must read for all those for whom Jammu and Kashmir is anything to look at!

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P E A C E

P R O C E S S

CONCERN

J&K Worried As Mumbai Storming Threatens Peace Process Epilogue Report

T

he blame game after Mumbai terror storm has once again brought India and Pakistan eye to eye but people of Jammu and Kashmir do not want this to happen. As the terror trail at India's financial capital assumes larger proportions than any incident of terrorism in postindependence history of country, the intellegentia, political and business class are getting wary of its repercussions. There is a strong urge from all that the Mumbai attack should not be allowed to derail the peace process between India and Pakistan and both the countries have to fight the scourge of terrorism together. 'The Mumbai attack in which innocent lives have been lost is most condemnable. These are reprehensible acts of terror against humanity,' said Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, patron of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former chief minister. On whether it would have an impact on the India-Pakistan peace process, he said: 'It might have a temporary effect but I do not see any long term impact. We must understand that India and Pakistan have to live together and fight terrorism together. Even Pakistan is facing the same kind of terrorism.' He felt that India and Pakistan would stand to benefit if they fought terrorism jointly. Farooq Abdullah, the patron of the

National Conference and former chief minister, also condemned the Mumbai attack in strong words. 'I feel this was planned and executed by those groups that do not want India and Pakistan to come closer. I think a Security Council meeting be called on this where both India and Pakistan, besides other major countries, should talk it out,' says Abdullah. He said though there would be some short term effect on the peace process, 'it will be able to sustain in the long term'. Perhaps their words come none to soon. Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has already said the terrorists had links with Pakistan but said he could not give any details because investigations were still on. The militants attacked prominent landmarks in Mumbai on the night of December 26 and continued their assault for next 60 hours. Apprehensions about the future of the peace process have been raised as ties between the two countries were snapped after the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, which India blamed on Pakistanbased terrorists. Ties between the two countries have improved greatly since then. A business delegation

Epilogue Ă˜ 7Ă— December 2008

from Jammu and Kashmir was scheduled to visit Muzaffarabad to take forward talks on trade across the Line Of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. 'We are worried about its future now after these attacks in Mumbai. But we all want this visit to go on as planned,' said Ram Sahai, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Jammu. ‘The continued involvement of both sides in such times of crisis is a must to fight terrorism together. I am sure my friends across the LoC in Pakistan will not be happy over such terrorist attacks.' Rekha Choudhary, a political expert from Jammu University, said: 'We must keep in mind that Pakistan itself is now a victim of terrorism. Both India and Pakistan have to cooperate with each other and devise strategies to fight terrorism jointly.'


P E A C E

P R O C E S S

CONCERN

Mumbai Attacks May Sharpen Obama’s Kashmir Focus Mayank Chhaya, in New York

T

he multiple terror attacks on Mumbai could push the incoming Barack Obama administration to sharpen its focus on the Kashmir issue. The attacks are being viewed by some in the transition team here as Presidentelect Obama's first major national security challenge that could draw him into the Kashmir dispute sooner than he might like. Although there is no direct link established between the terrorists operating in Kashmir with those who carried out the Mumbai attacks, a case may be made that eventually all jehadi groups are bound by a common Islamist philosophy. To that extent the Deccan Mujahedeen, a likely offshoot of the more organized Indian Mujahedeen, may well share the broader vision of those operating in Kashmir. Part of the reason why the Mumbai attacks could more sharply define the new Kashmir approach is because in the final analysis Kashmir (including the part under Pakistani control) is seen as a fount of the rising Islamist terror in India. Of course, factors such as the 2002 mass killings of Muslims in Gujarat do fuel some of the sense of extreme disenchantment within the Muslim community. However, the larger connection between the disparate groups will always remain a feeling of pan-Islamism. Perhaps the clearest indication of a more pro-active Kashmir approach under Obama has come from Bruce Reidel, a former CIA officer and adviser to three US presidents on South Asia and

the Middle East who has been appointed by the new president as his Pakistan adviser. In an interview with the influential think tank Council on Foreign Relations Reidel was quoted as saying as recently as September: "There's another place where I feel creative American diplomacy could be helpful. We ought to try to encourage a long-term settlement between India and Pakistan of the Kashmir dispute, based again on the principle that the existing Line of Control ought to become an international border with some special status reserved for Kashmiris." "We can't expect Pakistan to behave like a normal state, unless it has normal borders. And we can't expect Pakistan to behave the way we would like it to while it's obsessed and fixated on its neighbor and the problem in Kashmir. The problem in Kashmir has been in the doldrums for the past several years. It is now starting to boil really quickly, and when Kashmir boils, the result is IndianPakistani tensions that can produce war. We've seen that over and over again," he said. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointing at external links of the Mumbai attackers, it is not lost on experts in the US that he could be talking of groups based in Pakistan. If that is indeed the case the brazen Mumbai attacks could yet work up new tensions with Pakistan. Since Obama is committed to making A f g h a n i s t a n a n d Pa k i s t a n h i s administration's foreign policy as well national security priority, it is only

Epilogue Ø 8× December 2008

logical that he would have to pay particular attention to Kashmir. While the chatter over Obama proposing to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir has died down in recent weeks, it is clear that the Mumbai attacks would bring back a whole lot of options on the table. At the very least they would force Obama and his South Asia advisers to reassess the situation on the ground. Those who know the issue of terror in India understand that the mushrooming jehadi outfits use the justification of the community having been wronged in India as much as it having been wronged globally. Such outfits no longer make any distinction between what they consider wrongs being done to Indian Muslims and those being done to Muslims worldwide. This fusion of global and domestic grievance among the jehadi groups, perceived or real, could make it hard for the Obama administration to tailor their Kashmir policy. Nobody knows who Deccan Mujahedeen are or what their objectives are or whether they feel any affinity towards the Kashmiri separatists. But it may be safe to assume that all these groups morph into each other when it comes to what they have framed in their minds as Islam versus the world conflict. It is in this nebulousness that the Obama administration will have to pitch its Kashmir approach in the framework of its national security policy on South Asia, in the light of threat perceptions emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Courtesy IANS)


P E A C E

P R O C E S S

US ELECTIONS

Is Kashmir Key To Afghanistan Peace ? Mark Sappenfield & Shahan Mufti

A

s part of his push to find new solutions to the war in Afghanistan, US Presidentelect Barack Obama is considering a new diplomatic push on Kashmir, reversing eight years of American silence on the issue. Mr. Obama has argued that Pakistan will not fully commit to fighting the insurgency it shares with Afghanistan until it sheds historic insecurities toward India. Talks about Kashmir, the central point of contention between the two nuclear rivals, are among the "critical tasks for the next administration," Obama said in an interview last month with Time magazine. It is a strategy that worries Indians, who suggest the Pakistani Army is blackmailing Obama to support its claims. Yet security analysts say the Afghan insurgency has roots in the power struggle between India and Pakistan and cannot be solved without a regional approach. "It will be very hard to put Afghanistan on a long-term positive path without alleviating some of the Indo-Pakistan tensions," says Xenia Dormandy of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Such ideas would appear to fit well with the doctrines of Gen. David Petraeus, who oversaw a significant improvement in law and order in Iraq. He is now the commander of American forces in the

It is a strategy that worries Indians, who suggest the Pakistani Army is blackmailing Obama to support its claims. Yet security analysts say the Afghan insurgency has roots in the power struggle between India and Pakistan and cannot be solved without a regional approach. entire region, which includes Afghanistan. General Petraeus has been an open advocate of regional diplomacy as a key counterinsurgency tactic. On Oct. 15, he told a round table of Washington Post reporters that in seeking solutions to Afghanistan, "there may be opportunities with respect to India." The goal would be to build a level of trust between India and Pakistan, freeing Pakistan from its historic fear of India, with which it has fought three wars. The surest way to do this, Obama has said, is to find a solution to Kashmir – the state split between each but claimed in full by both. "We should try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that [Pakistan] can stay focused –

Epilogue Ø 9× December 2008

not on India, but on the situation with those militants," he told MSNBC on Oct. 31. Obama went further in the Time interview, mentioning he has spoken with former President Bill Clinton about becoming a special envoy to the region – a comment that has been front-page news in India and Pakistan. Nothing could be more damaging to American interests in the region, says Raja Mohan, a member of India's National Security Advisory Board. He claims IndoPakistan relations are better than they have ever been, citing the recent opening of trade between Pakistan - and-Indiancontrolled Kashmir as something that would have been unthinkable in the past. Moreover, he suggests India and Pakistan


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COVER STORY

have behind the scenes made significant progress on the issue of Kashmir, to the point that the two nations have a tentative road map for how to resolve the crisis. It was scuppered only by the collapse of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's regime in August. Bush steered clear of Kashmir The progress was partly the result of the Bush administration's decision to steer clear of Kashmir, says Mr. Mohan. Entering the fray now would only disrupt the delicate balance, making it appear as if the US was merely trying to placate Pakistan in return for its support in the war against terror. In such a case, Mohan says, India might have a hard time winning concessions for a fair deal: "So long as the Pakistani Army thinks that the Americans are on their side, they're not going to deal with India." Both Obama and his top South Asia adviser, Bruce Riedel, have spoken of the need to be discreet. In a 2007 teleconference for the journal Foreign Affairs, Mr. Riedel said: "I would urge the administration to seize the opportunity to quietly, but forcefully, push for a resolution there." In the interview he called Kashmir "the itch that has driven Pakistan towards supporting terrorism for the last 20 years." Indeed, many experts say the enmity – for which Kashmir is the most potent symbol – has shaped security in the region, including Afghanistan. Rivalry plays out in Afghanistan For years, the mutual mistrust has led India and Pakistan to play their own version of the Great Game in Afghanistan. India has consistently been Afghanistan's main ally in the region. But Pakistan sees Afghanistan as its strategic backyard, which under no circumstances can be

yielded to Indian influence. Fears are stoked by the memories of 1971, when the Indian Army helped Bengalis secede from Pakistan to form Bangladesh. With Afghanistan historically claiming a significant chunk of Pakistan as its own, Pakistanis worry that an Indian-backed Afghanistan could dismember Pakistan further. "Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that stands between India's complete hegemony in this region," says Fahmida Ashraf, an analyst at the Institute for Strategic Studies in Islamabad, a thinktank funded by the Pakistan government. Repeatedly, Pakistan's Army has acted to prevent this from happening. It has done this by cultivating networks of militants as a proxy army. In Afghanistan, the Pakistan-backed mujahideen chased out the Soviet Union, India's ally. Then the Pakistan-backed Taliban took control of the country, preventing it from falling into the hands of pro-India Northern Alliance warlords. This proxy war continues. India has invested $750 million and pledged $450 million more to the government of President Hamid Karzai, who is strongly pro-India. India is Afghanistan's largest trade partner. And it has taken the provocative step of opening consulates in two cities sitting on the border with Pakistan – Jalalabad and Kandahar. Pakistan claims Indian intelligence agencies are using these consulates as bases, though it has never made this evidence public. Generally speaking, the allegations are that India is funding separatist militants in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. "India wants to destabilize [Pakistan's tribal areas] and Balochistan," said Rahman

Epilogue Ø 10 × December 2008

Malik, a Pakistani government security adviser during a trip to Washington. Analysts say this might be true, but only to a small degree. Militants "might be getting some support from India, but it's not anywhere near what the Pakistanis like to suggest," says Marvin Weinbaum, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington. Privately, a Pakistani diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity agrees. India's involvement in the unrest along Pakistan's western front "might be no more than 5 percent of all the trouble out there." But publicly, Pakistan "is basing its Afghan and Indian policy on its perception," says Mr. Weinbaum. In July, militants struck the Indian Embassy in Kabul with a bomb blast that killed 41 people. American intelligence agencies have said they have evidence that Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, was involved. "Even today, the Pakistani military sees India as the threat," says Ms. Dormandy, of Harvard. "Until that attitude changes, you're not going to see Pakistan step back from its historically strong use of militant assets to affect foreign policy." There are signs that this attitude is beginning to change. Pakistan is now fighting many of the militants it once sheltered in Bajaur and Swat in northern Pakistan. Obama's intent would be to accelerate this process and send a clear message to Pakistan. "Why do you want to keep on being bogged down with [India and Kashmir], particularly at a time where the biggest threat now is coming from the Afghan border?" he told Time. "I think there is a moment where potentially we could get their attention.” (By arrangement : Christian Science Monitor)


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Surprise For Many, Shocks For Others Zafar Choudhary

There are no easy conclusions. But the voters in parts of Kashmir Valley have left the mainstream political parties surprised and separatists shocked. Dispelling all worries and fears of a low voter turnout which could have been an international embarrassment for India, the first two phases of polling in the ongoing Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections have set a confident trend for the subsequent phases. An average poll percentage of 65 in 16 out of 87 constituencies was no one's imagination. Almost every constituency has registered a remarkable upward poll percentage over the figure of 2002 when enthusiasm was at its highest and even separatists had fielded proxies in some constituencies of Kashmir Valley. As state moves towards subsequent phases of polling and fears of decline in voter percentage return, even 15 per cent turnout in Srinagar district (going to polls along with Jammu district in last phase on December 24), which appears certain, will be a record polling of last two decades.

I

n Jammu and Kashmir –Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh –the regions have always responded differently to the electoral process. For Jammu and Ladakh elections are a democratic competitive exercise the way they are in any part of India involving all ingredients of emerging electoral trends, good and bad. In Kashmir Valley it is a different scenario, always. Once the Government of India would get elections rigged to see formation of a government of its choice. Now it is about good voter Epilogue Ø 11 × December 2008


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By Definition... participation and no matter which party returns to power at the end of the day. A high voter turnout is victory for India over Kashmir and a poor percentage proves point of separatists and gives Pakistan a much required leverage for drumbeating about the 'disputed' nature of territory. Therefore, any election, particularly post-1987, has never been less than a referendum. The way elections are officially projected here, the competition between parties for forming government appears as a ancillary product of exercise and not the main exercise, per se. Going by the voter enthusiasm, the elections of 2008 are well geared to declare India winner

while it is to be seen as which party actually wins to form the next government.

S

ince 1989 the major challenge about holding any election in Jammu and Kashmir has always been security. Militant threat, an increased pitch of violence and hostile circumstances drove the participants, aspirants and electors alike, away from the electoral process. This time there was no such threat even as caution always remains. Still the Election Commission and Government of India appeared in a double mind on holding elections in the state at this stage. Worries were quite genuine. If people

Vote against Azadi? Not Really are shooed away from election scene by the ominous threat of gun it makes going tough for the contestants but strengthens India's one major point on Kashmir –Pakistan and its sponsored militants are derailing the course of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. An imminent international condemnation for Pakistan and, may be, some sympathies for India. Imagine a converse situation. There is no role of gun and still people do not come to vote. This makes it tough for India to explain as what happened in Kashmir. The second scenario has this year been clearer than ever in the two-decade long current history of separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir. In the backdrop of the 'Summer 2008 Uprising' triggered by the Amarnath land transfer row it was a movement of peoples and not militants which set Kashmir burning and boiling and the establishment looking for options to quell the protests. There was no militant angle to the

movement as people would throng to the streets in hundreds of thousands on call of Kashmir Coordination Committee –an amalgam of several separatist outfit floated early this year to oppose transfer of land to Amarnath shrine. It was the call of coordination committee which saw over two lakh people trooping towards Uri in Baramulla August this year as a symbolic march towards Muzaffarabad and then as many of them gathering at the Srinagar Id Gah chanting slogans for Azadi. Since then most parts of Kashmir Valley have continuously reeled under curfew –declared and undeclared. The same coordination committee calling for a complete boycott of elections had left everyone wondering for the possible options to hold elections in Kashmir and then draw some people to the polling booths. After two phases of polling in five constituencies of Kashmir Valley, four in Ladakh and seven in Jammu division, it

Epilogue Ø 12 × December 2008

Name

2002

2008

Karnah

07

14

Kupwara

07

19

Lolab

10

10

Handwara

09

13

Langate

10

15

Uri

03

13

Rafiabad

07

09

Sopore

06

24

Sangrama

07

19

Baramulla

13

12

Gulmarg

02

15

Pattan

03

13

Gurez

05

06

Bandipora

06

19

Sonawari

06

22

Kangan

07

10

Ganderbal

06

11

Chadoora

08

18

Budgam

07

16

Beerwah

06

17

Khansaheb

04

11

Charar-e-Sharief

04

09

Nobra

01

05

Leh

01

04

Kargil

02

05

Zanskar

04

05

Total

151

334

Average number of candidates

5.81

12.85

Gulabgarh

10

14

Reasi

12

15

Gool-Arnas

10

10

Udhampur

14

18

Chenani

07

12

Ramnagar

09

12

Nowshera

05

11

Darhal

09

12

Rajouri

14

23

Kalakote

05

13

Surankote

06

11

Mendhar

05

12

Poonch-Haveli

06

13

Total

112

176

Average number of candidates

8.62

13.54


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2 3

1 4 5

DISTRICT KUPWARA 5 Constituencies Total Vote count: 341004 Karnah, 26591 (13,613M, 12,978F); Kupwara, 90594 (46,974M, 43,620F); Lolab, 85,474 (45,069M, 40,405F); Handwara, 78,118 (40,549M, 37,569F); Langate, 60,227 (31,655M, 28,572F)

B

etter known as ideological stronghold of widely respected separatist leader late Abdul Ghani and post-2002 his sons Sajjad and Bilal, but in electoral politics people of Kupwara have been invariably trusting NC for almost three decades. As proxy of Peoples Conference, GM Sofi took away Handwara seat from NC in 2002. While Sofi still remains strong in pitch, Lone's daughter Shabnam has defied anti-poll campaign of brothers to seek election from Kupwara constituency. On remaining three seats, NC is saddled comfortably against Congress, PDP and independents. Antielection campaign is more likely to influence fortune of contestants than their performance and credibility.

has become difficult for the separatists to understand and explain as what drove people to the polling booths. The overwhelming voter turnout on November 17 and then on November 23 was an imminent surprise and shock as it was bound to happen after an unprecedented participation of contestants and a record number of rallies and outdoor elections meetings since announcement of poll schedule on

Percentage of voter turnout is not likely to come down by any drastic measure in the subsequent phases in view of the prevailing enthusiasm and an unprecedented participation of contestants. October 19. Percentage of voter turnout is not likely to come down by any drastic measure in the subsequent phases in view of the prevailing enthusiasm and an unprecedented participation of contestants.

“These elections are not any indication of a vote for India. These (elections) have been held against wishes and aspiration of people who had made clear by their protests between June and August that they stand for right to self determination”, says separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He prefers to skirt a much required comment on overwhelming voter participation. Reacting to first phase of polling, the ailing veteran separatist said in a statement, “undoubtedly people of these constituencies (Bandipora, Gurez and Sonawari) face problems of jobs, roads and other basic amenities which pro-India parties promise to address in lieu of votes”. He added, when a nation fights for freedom its people have to rise above self interests and be ready to offer sacrifices. I hope people of other constituencies will show sympathy to lakhs of Kashmiris, who laid their lives for their birthright of plebiscite and boycott the polls”. Six days later, people in two more constituencies of Kashmir –Ganderbal and Kangan –chose to ignore

PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, at a public meeting in Ganderbal. Epilogue Ø 13 × December 2008


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Geelani's appeal and turned up in still more numbers to cast their votes. The overall poll percentage in Ganderbal district has been recorded at 52.5% against 43% of 2002. In Bandipore district which went to polls in first phase on November 17, the overall poll percentage was around 63% against 54% of 2002. In 2002 the elections were held in a pleasant weather and absence of any major boycott call from separatists. This time, most of the areas of Bandipore district were under a snow cover of upto three feet and sub-zero degree temperature prevailed all around. The elections are still being described as sham by separatists but not even a single allegation has come, even from separatist camp, to suggest any coercion on part of government in pulling crowds to the polling stations. It is true that the top separatist leaders have either been jailed or put under house arrest and strict restrictions have been imposed on taking out any boycott campaigns. Urban areas of Valley, particularly in central and north Kashmir, have been intermittently coming under an undeclared curfew like situations to thwart the boycott campaigns. Top separatist leaders Mohammad Yaseen Malik and Shabir Ahmed Shah have been booked under Public Safety Act for their anti-election activities. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is under house arrest and so is the case with Syed Ali Shah Geelani who returned to Kashmir only in last week of November after his treatment in New Delhi and Mumbai. There is clearly a strong use of force to prevent the separatists from taking out rallies and processions against elections. However, what earns credibility to the election exercise is that there is absolutely no use of force to make people to vote. “This is our responsibility to facilitate a smooth and fearless electioneering and polling. Our effort is to ensure that people are not

forced to stay away from the polling booths…now they come to polling booths or not, it for them to see”, says J&K's Chief Election Officer BR Sharma. Separatists say that the high polling percentage has been possible only due the strict restrictions and strong arm tactics against the anti-election campaign. These arguments can not be brushed aside easily in view of situation explained above. But why the antielection campaign when people are clear about what they have in mind. Interestingly, the trend in present elections have boldly underlined one important fact that a common man in Kashmir is more clear about his ideas as well as ideologies than the separatist or

There is clearly a strong use of force to prevent the separatists from taking out rallies and processions against elections. However, what earns credibility to the election exercise is that there is absolutely no use of force to make people to vote. mainstream political elites. The political elites of all hues, whether in Srinagar, New Delhi or Islamabad, link elections with the basic Kashmir issue and try to score a point over each other according to convenience of prevailing situation. “Elections are not any solution to Kashmir issue”, argues Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Noor Mohammad Kalwal, an 80 year old resident of a Bandipore village who walked more than two kilometers over snow to cast his vote, does not differ much from Mirwaiz. “Elections are certainly no solution to Kashmir issue but there are a host of other issues which can be resolved through elections alone”, says Kalwal. He has a long list of complaints against the local MLA but the point of relevance he makes here is: Epilogue Ø 14 × December 2008

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DISTRICT GANDERBAL 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Kangan, 59,879 (31,354M, 28,525F); Ganderbal, 77,616 (39,982M, 37,634F)

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n 2002, Ganderbal emerged as symbol of change in Kashmir politics when third generation heir of Abdullah dynasty and NC's Chief Ministerial candidate Omar Abdullah lost to a hitherto unknown Qazi Mohammad Afzal of PDP. Nothing worst could have happened to Abdullahs. Omar is again face to face with Qazi. Curfew like situation prevailed at headquarters of this new district when PDP workers brought down NC banners the day Omar filed nomination papers. On his second visit to constituency, Police had a tough time when Congress workers pelted stoned at his cavalcade. He is tendering public apologies for past mistakes as contest is not quite smooth. In Kangan, Mian Altaf Ahmed appears well placed to win seat fourth time in row.


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DISTRICT BANDIPORA 3 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Gurez, 15,330 (8,006M, 7,324F); Bandipora, 86,013 (45,120M, 40,893F); Sonawari, 84,726 (43,722M, 41,004F)

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andipore district was carved out of Barmulla last year. Except Gurez constituency which is both geographically and ideologically usually cut off from rest of Kashmir Valley, Bandipore has a contest between separatists with mainstream leanings and the mainstreamers. Kukka Parray, the militant commander turned politician won Sonawari in 1996 and lost to NC after a significant contest in 2002. His Deputy in Awami League Usman Majid, however, won neighbouring Bandipore with a thin margin. While no major party is out of contest here but none of them can be seen much ahead of others. Independents are still better placed.

“don't mix up elections with Kashmir issue”.

the mass uprising of this year, following Amarnath land dispute.

Our team traveled across several areas of Bandipore and Ganderbal districts and shared with many people Syed Ali Shah Geelani's argument of sacrificing the right to vote for resolution of Kashmir issue. The dominant opinion from a cross section of respondents says: “Kashmir issue has its own importance and we will keep fighting for that; election is about addressing the local issues and we don't want to waste this opportunity”. Bandipore and Ganderbal districts were the hot spot of violent protests and demonstrations in

ndia has an average polling percentage of 58%. Past trends suggest that more people from rural areas turn for exercising their voting rights than their urban counterparts. It has been very recently that urban poll percentage has started picking up but still it is far less than the rural trends. Boycotting the boycott call of separatists and braving the chill, if around 55% are turning up to vote in Kashmir Valley and the overall percentage is going much higher (including districts of Jammu and

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Story behind those long queues Ladakh regions) it can be seen as victory of democracy. But democracy overnight turning highly competitive in Kashmir have left many wanting for reasons. Bandipore constituency polled 31% in 2002 and this time it was 57%. Ganderbal has polled 51% against 35% of last time. There is hostile weather and strong antielection movement but still people are coming out in large numbers. Separatists are not able to either

Epilogue Ø 15 × December 2008

comprehend or explain the reasons of this blatant defiance of their boycott calls. The only reason they have been able to offer is that the government bundled them all in to ensure that antielection campaign is not taken out. Not a cogent reason. There are no reports or allegations (even from separatists) of government forcing people to vote. Then who is pulling crowds to the polling booths. The answer perhaps rests with


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an unprecedentedly and surprisingly high number of candidates taking part in elections. On an average around five candidates contested 2002 elections in 20 of 46 assembly constituencies of

Kashmir Valley, this time the average participation of candidates per constituency is 12. For example, Sopore, the home turf of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had only six

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Observers believe that high voter percentage is a direct consequence of large number of candidates participation in the elections. For example, after an intense campaign, every candidate is able to pull an average of 500 to 1000 supporters to the polling booths, the net voter turnout at the end of the day can be something upward 15,000 put together with the share of main contenders. A horde of independent candidates and the candidates from smaller parties or the national parties is actually enhancing the voter turnout to unexpected percentages. Participation of such players in huge numbers in the Kashmir is quite unusual and something unforeseen in Valley's electoral landscape. For instance BJP and Jammu based Panthers Party each have fielded more than 25 candidates in the Valley where the electoral scene took off at a time when regional and Kashmir based parties like National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party were dragging feet in view of prevailing hostile circumstances.

Epilogue Ă˜ 16 Ă— December 2008

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DISTRICT BARAMULLA 7 Constituencies Total Vote Count: 518215 Uri, 65,476 (34,351M, 31,125F); Rafiabad, 70,256 (36,282M 33,974F); Sopore, 89,395 (46,359M, 43,476F); S a n g ra m a , 5 8 , 4 9 2 ( 3 0 , 2 3 5 M , 2 8 , 2 5 7 F ) ; B aram u l l a, 7 3 , 5 8 7 (38,117M 35,470F); Gulmarg, 81,662 (42,408M, 39,254F); Pattan, 78,907 (40,595M 38,312F)

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takes are highest for all parties in Baramulla as their stalwarts of Kashmir politics belong to this district. Home of state Congress president and Union Minister Saif-ud-Din Soz has one of his predecessors Ghulam Rasool Kar in fray as independent in Sopore. Representing Uri five times in row, NC veteran Mohammad Shafi was unseated by Taj Mohiuddin of Congress by 184 votes in 2002. Both are again face to face. Abdullah dynasty scion Mustafa Kamal is facing PDP rebel and DP-N founder Ghulam Hassan Mir in Gulmarg. Ex-DyCM Muzaffar Hussain Baig (Baramulla), Dillawar Mir (Rafiabad) and Iftikhar Ansari (Pattan) are PDP's hopes of survival. Congress' No 2 in Valley Ghani Vakil and NC MP AR Shaheen are also in fray.


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DISTRICT SRINAGAR 10 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Hazaratbal, 82,675 (42,930M, 39,745F); Zadibal, 66,800 (34,565M, 32,235F); Iddgah, 58,245 (30,370M, 27,875F); Khanyar, 53,842 (28,086M, 25,756F); Habakadal, 51,391 (26,325M, 25,066F); Amirakadal, 75,488 (38,936M, 36,552F); Sonawar, 66,065 (34,313M, 31,752F); Batmaloo, 1,02,759 (53,459M, 49,300F)

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afest constituency for NC in Valley has always been Srinagar district. Its tally reduced from cent percent to 5 out of 8 in 2002 as two independents and one Congressman won. Intruding into NC bastion in a 2004 byeelection in Batamalloo, PDP's Tariq Hameed Karra made a way for party's expansion in urban landscape. Dr Abdullah, who had skipped 2002 polls, is contesting from Hazratbal. While signs of internal rebellion are clearly visible, NC's worries are compounded by growing presence of PDP and a new contestant emerging from home –ANC of Farooq's estranged brother-in-law, former CM GM Shah. Being cadre based party low turnout in urban areas is always NC's advantage. Overwhelming participation of Kashmir Pandits is another interesting factor this time.

candidates contesting in 2002. This time there are 24 candidates in fray. There are 15 in Gulmarg against two in 2002 and 22 in Sonawari against only six in last elections. In Bandipora constituency, as compared to six candidates in 2002, a total of 19 contestants are in the fray this time. More participation of candidates obviously makes the game more competitive. A remarkably high number of candidates is leading to intense electioneering in these constituencies. According to J&K Government, at least 1300 rallies and other election meetings were held in one month after announcement of elections on October 19. An upward of 800 such rallies and meetings were held in Kashmir alone. It is important to note here that except three incidents of grenade lobbing –two on Mehbooba Mufti's cavalcade and one on National Conference meeting –all election related meeting and rallies went off peacefully with no report of militant violence from anywhere. Observers believe that high voter percentage is a direct consequence of large number of candidates participation in the elections. For example, after an intense campaign, every candidate is able to pull an average of 500 to 1000 supporters to the polling booths, the net voter turnout at the end of the day can be something upward 15,000 put together with the share of main contenders. A horde of independent candidates and the candidates from smaller parties or the national parties is actually enhancing the voter turnout to unexpected Epilogue Ø 17 × December 2008

Name Gurez Bandipora Sonawari Nobra Leh Kargil Zanaskar Surankote Mendhar Poonch Kangan Ganderbal Nowshera Darhal Rajouri Kalakote

2008 73.59 57.24 59.64 74.23 64 72.04 72.51 74.38 77.46 74.46 59.35 51.97 73.69 76.74 70.16 69.53

2002 76.50 31.27 56.51 U/C U/C 74.83 78.97 40.01 60.29 60.73 52.03 35.20 57.84 46.61 27.01 48.66

percentages. Participation of such players in huge numbers in the Kashmir is quite unusual and something unforeseen in Valley's electoral landscape. For instance BJP and Jammu based Panthers Party each have fielded more than 25 candidates in the Valley where the electoral scene took off at a time when regional and


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Kashmir based parties like National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party were dragging feet in view of prevailing hostile circumstances.

Budgam, the number of contestants this time has gone up to 18 as against only 8 in the last Assembly elections.

N e w l y f o u n d p a r t i e s , Pe o p l e s Democratic Front of Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen and Democratic Party of PDP rebel Ghulam Hassan Mir have fielded more than 30 candidates each. Awami National Conference of Dr Farooq Abdullah's estranged brotherin-law GM Shah is participating in elections for first time and it has come up with over three dozen candidates and so is the case with another new party called Socialist Democratic Party.

Similarly, in Jammu province, where 13 constituencies are going to polls in the first four phases, as against 112 contestants who fought elections in 2002, a total number of 176 contestants are trying their luck in the 2008 Assembly elections. There were 76 contestants in fray in 1983, 74 in 1987 and 95 in 1996. As compared to 8.62 average number of candidates in the Jammu province in 2002 Assembly elections, the average number of candidates in the elections this time is 13.54.

There are two newly floated parties of Kashmiri Pandits fielding more than two dozen candidates and the Bahujan Samaj Party which had no seat in dissolved assembly also has around 30 candidates fielded from different constituencies in Kashmir Valley. It is agreed that people in Kashmir have defied separatist diktats but this call of democracy attracting a huge number of candidates to the electoral battle in Valley incomprehensible. In Kashmir Division, in comparison to 151 candidates in fray in 2002 elections, a whopping 334 candidates are contesting elections this time in 26 Assembly constituencies in the first four phases. There were 114 contestants in the ring for 1983 elections, 122 in 1987 and 128 in 1996. The average number of candidates in the Kashmir province has also steadily increased from 4.38 in 1983, 4.69 in 1987, 4.92 in 1996, 5.81 in 2002 to 12.85 in the present elections. In Chadoora constituency of district

The Rajouri constituency in Jammu division, which is going to polls in the second phase of elections on November 23, has the distinction of having the largest number of 23 contestants in the first four phases. In comparison, there were 7 candidates in the constituency in 1983, 11 in 1987, 6 in 1996 and 14 in 2002. Similarly, Udhampur constituency has 18 candidates this time as against 17 in 1983, 11 in 1987, 7 in 1996 and 14 in 2002.

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he self proclaimed election boycott of an important ingredient of the Kashmiri society is over. One most interesting feature of the present assembly elections is overwhelming participation of Kashmiri Pandits. This long delayed aspect of elections was perhaps much required to make elections really c o m p e t i t i v e a n d p a r t i c i p a t o r y. Kashmiri Pandits have decided to take the election road back home after years of unfulfilled promises. Never before have the Valley's

Epilogue Ă˜ 18 Ă— December 2008

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30 DISTRICT BADGAM 5 Constituencies Total Vote Count : C h a d o o ra , 7 3 , 0 2 1 ( 3 7 , 5 2 5 M , 35,496F); Budgam, 87,028 (44,844M, 42,184F); Beerwah, 83,856 (43,405M, 40,451F); Khan Sahib, 71,920 (37,807M, 34,113F): Chrar-ESharief, 68,089 (35,234M, 32,855F)

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t is out and out triangular contest between NC, PDP and Peoples Democratic Forum. PDP got two seats in 2002 but this time it has rebel on three seats and is left wanting for suitable candidates on two seats. Legislative Council Chairman Ghulam Nabi Lone of PDP is contesting against Abdul Rahim Rather of NC who has been winning this seat since 1977. Lone had lost by 3700 votes in 2002 and since then his party has pumped in huge energy and resources in constituency. PDF emerged after 2002 elections; its leader Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen eyes one seat in district besides his own of Khan Sahib. His contest from two seats underlines the quantum of confidence.


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Kashmiri Pandits return to politics 32 31 33 34

DISTRICT PULWAMA 4 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Tral, 73,944 (38,602M, 35,342F); Pa m p o r e , 6 8 , 8 9 8 ( 3 5 , 3 7 0 M , 33,528F); Pulwama, 70,999 (36,631M, 34,368F): Rajpora, 79,118 (41,032M, 38,086F)

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arring one constituency of Tral where Congress has a significant presence, Pulwama district is locked in a straight contest between NC and PDP. NC dominance of nearly decades was broken by a bang by PDP which won three out of four seats. Though NC has changed the faces but PDP appears to have further consolidated its position even though 2002 winners have been repeated. NC is hit by severe internal rebellion in this district. In Tral constituency Congress can expect a surprise as its 2002 nominee who has lost with a margin of 309 votes is again in the fray after having spent years among people. In that case Surinder Singh may be a lone Sikh winner from Valley.

migrants contested in polls in so large a number as they have done this time, and ensuring their community's “honourable” return from exile is their t o p p r i o r i t y. I r o n i c a l l y, t h e participation is so overwhelming that it is certainly going to mar winning prospects of any candidate from the community but at least and at last the Kashmiri Pandits are here to underline their presence in the Valley's political landscape. “We want political space in Jammu and Kashmir where we can fight for the return of Kashmiri Pandits with constitutional guarantees like minority status. This was the main reason that forced me to fight this year's election,” said Gopi Kishen Muju, who teaches clinical psychology at Government Medical College in Srinagar. Pandits comprise less than 4 per cent of the Valley's population. More than 250,000 Kashmiri Pandits had left their burning homes when militancy broke out in 1989, and since then many leaders have pledged to pave the way for their return. But all have turned out to be empty promises.

have passed through horrible times and there is a trust deficit between the two communities. We have to work hard so that the two can live as they have for long,” he said. Muju is one of dozens of Kashmiri Pandits in the election fray and the number is rising. No Pandit candidate figures on the list of the two prominent mainstream parties — the National Conference and the People's Democratic Party — announced so far, though. But that has not demoralised the community. Some Kashmiri Pandits have floated the National United Front (NUF) while several others are fighting as Independents. In Srinagar's Habba Kadal constituency, there are as many as 11 Pandit candidates. “We are contesting 15 seats, all in the Valley, because of our emotional attachment with that place. But this is not an all-Pandit affair and we want votes from all the communities. In fact, we have given our mandate to two Muslims,” said A.K. Diwani, who heads the NUF.

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Muju's father, Pandit Dina Nath, had been killed by militants in June 1990. “I had already migrated in March that year after I received threats from some people but my parents had stayed back. When my father was killed, I could not come down for his cremation in Srinagar. My mother came to live with us in Jammu after my father's death.”

ne stalwart of Bhartiya Janta Party who is missing from the political scene even the party's New Delhi headquarters is setting the campaign theme in Kashmir Valley. The era of Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister is being reminded to the people in Valley, particularly in North Kashmir. Strange enough, the Valley's poll skyline also have some lotus flowers in the saffron background.

Despite his personal tragedy, Muju wants to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. “The Muslims

The BJP, which led the Amarnath campaign pitting Hindus against Muslims

Epilogue Ø 19 × December 2008


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ATAL IN KASHMIR With 27 candidates in Valley, BJP is seeking votes in name of Vajpayee

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DISTRICT LEH 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Nobra, 11,863 (5,943M, 5,920F); Leh, 62,533 (31,680M, 30,853F)

T April 2003: Then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee in Srinagar. He is still remembered for his visionary peace initiatives on Kashmir.

in Jammu and Kashmir not long ago, appears to be eyeing a secular image now. The party has picked Muslim candidates for 27 of the 65 seats it will contest in the state. And barring a few, all Muslims have been fielded in the Valley. It is certainly a token contest but the BJP does not want to end here. Party veteran and former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister is already over with one round of campaigning in the Valley. “No Prime Minister ever has taken bold steps on Kashmir the way Atal Behari Vajpayee took. Through these elections we are reminding people of Vajpayee's peace efforts”, says Kumar. “We are contesting 65 seats and 27 candidates are Muslims, and most of them have got tickets from Kashmir,” BJP state general secretary Shamsher Singh said.

The BJP had fielded about the same number in the last Assembly elections, when it did not win any seat in Kashmir and only one in Jammu. But in the bitter Amarnath land campaign that the BJP led this year, the party had taken a proHindu stand and also betrayed a bias against Kashmir vis-à-vis Jammu. All that is past now and the BJP appears to prefer Kashmiri Muslims to Pandits as candidates. Of the 46 seats in Kashmir, the BJP is contesting 27. Six are Kashmir Pandits and rest all are Muslims as BJP's candidates in the fray. “There is clearly a bias in favour of Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits deserved a couple of more tickets. But as a Kashmiri Pandit I won't mind it. They (BJP) are trying to prove their secular credentials,” said Veer Saraf, leader of Roots in Kashmir, a Jammu-based political group campaigning for the Epilogue Ø 20 × December 2008

he Himalayan enclave of Leh is one such area in J&K, where ideological rivals NC and BJP are together for an interest which is not theirs. Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) is pitted against Congress in Leh and Nubra with tacit support of NC and BJP. While BJP has no significant base in area, NC's support is symbolic and shrewd –if LUTF wins seats may fall in NC kitty in government formation. LUTF candidate in 2002, Nawang Rigzin is Congress nominee for Leh and journalist-turned politician Tsewang Rigzin for Nubra. The campaign and scheme is skewed in LUTF favour in such a manner that Congress victory can be just miraculous. PDP and Panthers Party have fielded their candidates in Leh district first time.


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return of Pandits to the Kashmir Valley.

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DISTRICT KARGIL 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Kargil, 58,073 (28,830M, 29,243F); Zanskar, 20,044 (9,940M, 10,104F)

Two constituencies of the snow clad Himalayan district of Kargil are special among all constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. Here the number of women voters is higher than the men but still no woman has ever been returned to assembly. NC and LUFT are in league in Kargil and the main contest is with independents. In 2002 NC and an independent had won one seat each. PDP and Panthers Party have fielded their candidates first time in Kargil.

But a BJP leader who asked not to be named said the Pandits had got a raw deal. “When the BJP issued the first list, there was no Kashmiri Pandit but six men from my community were given tickets after we pressed hard for it. We still feel betrayed,” he said. BJP provincial president Sofi Muhammad Yousuf said his party was secular with a national outlook and had taken more pro-Kashmir steps than any other group. “We are banking on Atal Bihari Vajpayee's peace initiatives, which helped improve the situation here. It was the NDA government led by him which started a dialogue with the Hurriyat, and relations with Pakistan also improved. It was also our initiative to open the cross-LoC roads but other parties are taking credit for that,” said Sofi, who is contesting from Pahalgam. “We have had roadshows and the biggest rallies in different parts of the Valley. In

Epilogue Ø 21 × December 2008

Pahalgam, around 4,000 people attended our rally.” The party is planning to bring over senior central leaders, including Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, to campaign. Kashmir has 72,000 Pandit voters out of a total of 34 lakh. But with the separatists calling for a boycott of the polls, they can play a decisive role in several seats if they come out to vote in large numbers.


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What is on agenda? Special status dominant buzzword, emphasis on regional balance Yes, it sounds ludicrous. Ideologically poles apart, three parties –Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference and Bhartiya Janta Party –are fighting Jammu and Kashmir elections on same plank. True. These are the major parties which have drawn out a common agenda. A look at the manifestos of almost all parties shows an unusual stress on regional empowerment. The only difference is that the parties like NC, PDP and others with their Kashmir origin, even Congress, call for more powers from New Delhi and then equal devolution to the regions. The BJP and other parties of its hue have gone completely silent on so called 'special status' of Jammu and Kashmir but their emphasis matches that of PDP and Congress on devolution of powers to regions and subregions. Besides other local issues, regional imbalance is a strong factor in the present elections and the parties have drafted their manifestos accordingly. Election manifestos of parties in Jammu and Kashmir, except National Conference, have always been drab and devoid of any major policy indicators. Local issues like power, water and employment etc are usually the agenda parties come up with during elections. It was in 1996 elections that the National Conference came up with a proposal to settle the Kashmir issue through elections –Greater Autonomy. Separatists in Kashmir though outrighly rejected and 'ultranationalist' in Jammu went to set copies of autonomy manifesto ablaze but still this proposal works well with a large majority as people believe that between Azadi and full integration Autonomy sounds a doable proposal. The Congress never uses the word 'Autonomy' but has never been opposed to this agenda. Therefore, it is a matter of political compulsion for the Peoples Democratic Party to come up with something –something little less than Azadi –which goes beyond Autonomy. While Self Rules is the election plank of the Peoples Democratic Party and surprisingly BJP has gone silent on its trademark slogan of 'abrogation of Article 370'. The agenda are all about appeasing majority votes and the common line in manifestos of all parties is empowerment of regions through the terminology is different. Jammu based smaller regional parties like Panthers Party and Jammu State Morcha have called for reorganization of the state while Kashmir based parties have stressed autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir and underlines a need for all inclusive dialogue to resolve Kashmir issue. Epilogue Ø 22 × December 2008

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DISTRICT DODA 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Doda, 72,847 (37,495M, 35,352F); Bhaderwah, 94,173 (47,970M 46,203F)

This hilly district has a nearly straight contest between Congress and National Conference. Bhaderwah is a matter of prestige for Congress as former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who seeking reelection. He had won with byelection in 2006 with a record margin that too without campaigning even for a single day. But that does not mean there was no campaign. Entire Congress structure was engaged in Bhaderwah to create 'history'. NC has Mohammad Aslam Goni and the BJP has Daya Kishan Kotwal as strong contenders pitted against Azad. In Doda constituency contest is between Abdul Majid Wani of Congress and Khalid Najib Suhrawardy of National Conference.


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PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Self Rule for lasting Kashmir solution 51 52

DISTRICT KISHTWAR 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Kishtwar, 70,218 (35,896M, 34,322F); Inderwal, 73,500 (37,845M, 35,655F)

Bashir Ahmed Kichloo of National Conference won Kishtwar four times till 1996 and after his death it was son Sajjad who retained the seat in 2002. Sajjad Kichloo is again seeking election but the contest is not quite hands down as it has been for the Kichloo family at five occasions earlier. Syed Asghar Ali of Peoples Democratic Party is a strong candidate to face. Congress has fielded Jugal Bhandari but he is not likely to cut much ice. In Inderwal, Congress candidate Ghulam Mohammad Saroori is strongly pitted against Abdul Karim Wani of National Conference who made an unsuccessful bid earlier also.

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fter debates and controversies spanning over nearly three years, the Peoples Democratic Party has unveiled its 'Self Rule' manifesto on the eve of elections. 'Utopian' as it has been described by many but the proposal cannot be brushed aside just for its perceived 'separatist tendencies' particularly if one recalls former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's disclosure that Indian diplomat JN Dixit was first to discuss such a proposal in his 'official capacity' as a pointman of Indian Government. The self rule concept in context of Jammu and Kashmir was first coined by then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in December 2005 and was subsequently adopted by the Peoples Democratic Party in January 2006, though in a different form and perspective. The party, however, could not release the document for two and half years, apparently due to its running trouble with the Congress when it was part of the ruling coalition.

indicative direction for resolution. We have tried to contextualise the issue at various levels and drawn the contours of a process for building sustainable peace in the State and the region. The essence of this document lies in trying to suggest a creative framework for resolution of the issue without compromising the sovereignty of the two nation states involved”.

Broad contours of self rule The document starts with a word of caution as it appeal for considering the same with a rational and objective view and not with a parochial and chauvinistic approach. “The Peoples Democratic Party is not presenting a solution; nor does it pretend to have one. Indeed, it is our belief that roadmaps prejudge the issue; readymade solutions make the problem a distorted image of what it actually is; and models make a mockery of specificity of the issue. As such, what we have attempted in this document is an internally consistent framework and Epilogue Ø 23 × December 2008

Regional Council: The centrepiece of the governance structure under selfrule is the cross border institution of Regional Council of Greater Jammu and Kashmir. The Regional Council of Greater Jammu and Kashmir will replace the existing Upper House of state assembly, and will be a kind of a regional senate. Members of the Regional Council will be from J&K as well as from Pakistan administered Kashmir. At present the state assembly of J&K holds 20 seats for representatives from across the line of control. These


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will be given up and replaced by the same number of seats in the Regional Council of Greater Jammu and Kashmir. This will serve as a major cross-border institution, which will ensure long-term coordination of matters and interest relating to the state. Economic Integration: As a measure of economic integration on both sides of Line of Control, the PDP has suggested establishment of a common economic space and institution of dual currency system. “The process of economic integration of the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir can start with the easiest form of economic integration, a Preferential Trade Agreement”, says the document. In the PTA the two countries, India and Pakistan would offer tariff reductions, or eliminations confined to the geographical boundaries of “Greater Jammu and Kashmir” and restrict it to some product categories. Stage II would be to make GJAK a regional free trade area, with no tariffs or barriers between with GJAK, while maintaining their own external tariff on imports from the rest of the world, including India and Pakistan. GJAK will set a common external tariff on imports from India and Pakistan. “Further, instead of looking for a monetary union, a new system of “Dual Currency” will be created, where the Indian and Pakistani rupees are both made legitimate legal tenders in the geographical areas of GJAK. A better description of this system is a “cocirculation of two currencies” in J&K. It is being proposed that Indian and Pakistani rupees should be the medium of exchange in J&K. To be more precise, it means, allowing circulation of the Pakistani rupee in the Indian part of J&K currency and circulation of Indian rupee in the Pakistan administered Kashmir. This has to be done if we want cross the Line of control trade to flourish”, the

document explains. Constitutional Restructuring: The self rule document has called for restoring the nomenclature of the head of the government and head of the state as it existed before 1965 and also suggested roll back of all India service. The document, therefore, explains “Self-rule cannot exist without adequate constitutional safeguards. As the Constitutional position stands today, Article 356, undermines the core of Selfrule and has to be made non-applicable to J&K. In a similar vein, Article 249, applied to the State in amended form, should be rolled back so that the Parliament cannot exercise legislative jurisdiction over a matter that, otherwise, falls under the State jurisdiction. Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the State that undermines its original scheme of a comprehensive and accountable executive (inclusive of the Head of the State) a critical component of Self-rule, will have to be repealed. Prior to this amendment, the State Legislature elected Sadar-e-Riyasat, the head of the State. The proviso, limiting the powers of State Legislature, has been added to Article 368, which deals with the powers of the Parliament to amend the Constitution of India and not the power of State Legislature to amend its own Constitution. The proviso is, therefore, totally and grossly out of place and ultra vires the constitutional scheme. The State Legislature's constitutional power of amendment is the core of empowerment or Self-rule of the State and this cannot be destroyed by an order passed under Article 370. All India Service Act, 1951 and Article 312 be rolled back and the local human resources are provided clear and unhindered opportunity to develop their full potential and it is trusted to manage Epilogue Ø 24 × December 2008

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DISTRICT REASI 3 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Gulab Garh, 59,625 (30,948M, 28, 677F); Reasi, 97,080 (50,608M, 46,472F); Gool Arnas, 55,537 (29,097M, 26,440F)

This is one such district where Congress, BJP and National Conference have a significant base. Peoples Democratic Party too has made inroads in Ghulab Garh and Gool Arnas constituencies but there are no potential candidates. Ajaz Ahmed Khan of Congress is seeking re-election from Gool Arnas while his brother Mumtaz is an independent candidate in Gulab Garh. Both have straight contest with NC. In Reasi, the contest is triangular between BJP, NC and Congress. Jugal Kishore of Congress had won in 2002 and is apparently well placed this time also.


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NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Ready To Look Beyond Autonomy 60

the affairs of the State”

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DISTRICT UDHAMPUR 3 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Udhampur, 1,02,921 (53,945M, 48,976F); Chenani, 79,222 (41,917M, 37,305F); Ram Nagar, 99,309 (52,214M, 47,095F)

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fter split of this district into two, last year, its six constituencies were divided into three each between Udhampur and Reasi. Therefore, post-division Udhampur was left by all constituencies represented by Panthers Party. Rise of Panthers Party has been phenomenal –debutant one seat in 1996 and four in 2002. Since their ouster from these three segments two to three decades back NC and Congress are in complete organization disarray. BJP supporters are fuming at irrational ticket distribution. PP eventually has contest with an independent in Ramnagar and with both BJP and Congress in Chenani and Udhampur. Antiincumbency, of course, is a factor against PP. Civic amenities and infrastructure is a major issue in Garrison town of Udhampur, the headquarters of Northern Command, where present MLA has been to do

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escribing its manifesto as 'Vision Document', the National Conference has reiterated its demand of Autonomy “as only viable solution of Kashmir issue” but has declared at the same time that the party is ready to accept any other proposal acceptable to the people. Interestingly, first time ever the National Conference has laid a huge emphasis on devolution of powers to the regions and strengthening of Panchayati Raj. Taking a cue from the PDP-Congress coalition government, the National Conference has also laid emphasis on good governance. “Good governance is a primary requisite for overall development. Good governance would consist of responsive and people friendly mind set of the political workers and the civil servants, close monitoring of implementation of programmes and policies of the Government, the habitual use of modern aids devised by Information Technology for improvement of efficiency and transparency, and curbing of misutilization of funds and effective check on corruption. In order to energize the administration to deliver the programmes of the Government to the people in a time bound framework and in adequate measure, a mechanism shall be devised for each department. This shall be institutionalized, to take periodical reviews and undertake inspections in the field. The independence of the civil service shall be respected and officers shall be encouraged to perform their duties without fear or favour”, says the manifesto.

Epilogue Ø 25 × December 2008

On sharing power with the peoples at grassroots, the National Conference has said that if returned to power, the first major task will holding elections to the Panchayats. The Vision Document recalled with regrets, “the National Conference Government held elections to the Panchayats in 2001. But the Coalition Government after 2002 took no steps whatsoever to implement the Act in letter and spirit. Instead of strengthening the Panchayati Raj system the Coalition Government made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to dissolve the duly elected panchayats. In a final, sinister attempt to subvert the Pa n c h a y a t R a j , t h e C o a l i t i o n Government introduced and passed a Bill in the Legislature despite strong opposition by the National Conference Party. The Bill aimed at empowering the government to dissolve duly elected Panchayats at its sweet will. This Bill was prevented from becoming Law by the National Conference Party which convinced the Governor not to give his assent”. The National Conference government immediately after coming to power shall hold elections to all the Panchayats and fully support them to discharge their functions as envisaged in the Act. Similarly the Urban Local Bodies which are elected and are functioning shall be financially supported and also


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encouraged to raise their own resources and reduce their dependence on the government. In respect of Jammu and Srinagar cities which have elected Municipal Corporations the scope and jurisdiction of the existing District Development Boards shall be reviewed to eliminate the possibility of overlapping of authority for plan formulation and implementation. NC also promised to attract private sector investment in every field, rehabilitation of militancy affected people, zero tolerance in Human Rights (HR) violations, war against corruption, employment to unemployed youths in government jobs and private sectors, improvement in power sector and industrial development.

The document said if elected to power in the state, the NC will try to convince those who have taken recourse to violence and intimidation as means to achieve their goal, that the lessons of history are very clear that all social, political discords are resolved ultimately by discourse and dialogue. The vision document, which was released by the NC patron Dr Farooq Abdullah, his son and party president Omar Abdullah in the presence of senior leaders, without naming separatists said all parties in the state, must accept the reality that the solution to the Kashmir problem can be found only through sustained dialogue between all stake holders. It said the NC will hold elections to all panchayats and fully support them to

CONGRESS

To Rewrite Constitution For Empowering Regions discharge their functions as envisaged in the Act.

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on't look at terminologies of the 'Self Rule' and 'Autonomy', the Congress manifesto takes you right there where Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference begin to talk about 'more empowerment' of Jammu and Kashmir as a road map for resolving the Kashmir issue. The very first point in Congress manifesto says: “The Congress remains fully committed to comprehensive devolution of powers to Jammu and Kashmir State so that the people of the state would be free to realize their full potential. To this end, the Congress will strive to work with all democratic forces”. Comprehensive devolution of

MANIFESTO OF

PEACE, DIGNITY AND HOPE FOR ELECTION TO THE

JAMMU & KASHMIR LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

2008

Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Epilogue Ø 26 × December 2008

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DISTRICT KATHUA 5 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Bani, 37,197 (19,354M, 17,843F); Basohli, 67,391 (35,234M, 32,157F); Kathua, 1,10,542 (58,437M, 52,105F); Billawar, 88,148 (46,274M, 4 1 , 8 7 4 F ) ; H i ra n a g a r, 9 9 , 4 6 9 (51,002M, 48,467F)

Kathua is only district in entire Jammu province where Congress is better placed among all parties. But this time equation is not all the same. The number of rebels is almost matching the official nominees. Party had won three of the five constituencies in 2002. Two other winners –both independents –later joined Congress as associate members. One of the associate members –Manohar Lal –has been given ticket in Billawar provoking two rebels from party to join fray. In Kathua party has fielded sitting MP Lal Singh (his wife is contesting from Basohli) but here the associate member –Babu Singh –has rebelled to joined fray.


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68 69 DISTRICT SAMBA 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Samba, 74,863 (37,861M, 37,002F); Vijaypur, 98,066 (48,366M, 49,700F)

Anyone who wins from either of two constituencies in Samba district will be actually like winning a lottery ticket. The reserved constituency of Samba (for Scheduled Castes) and neighbouring Vijaypur make Samba district epicenter of Dalit politics. Major hopes of BSP and its breakaway National Bahujan Party are here only. NC, Congress, BJP and Panthers Party –none of them can be undermined. PDP too has a strong contest in Vijaypur segment where its Manjit Singh had won in 2002 on BJP ticket and later joined PDP and remained a Minister till fall of Azad government.

powers to Jammu and Kashmir is what National Conference asks for in its Autonomy manifesto. On making borders soft, rather irrelevant, the Congress appears to have touched up the PDP manifesto as it calls for blurring of boundaries between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir, making trans-LoC trade and travel completely hassle free affairs and opening at least five more LoC links for people-to-people contacts. On regional balance, which is the dominant buzzword in present elections, the Congress has promised going to the extent rewriting the state constitution for making constitution empowerment of each region in the state. Therefore, the manifesto says: When elected to power, Congress will restructure constitution of the State into a federal setup by creating separate regional councils for Jammu and Kashmir and further decentralization and devolution of powers to district and

block level councils to ensure effective participation of people in the democratic system. This constitutional mechanism will guarantee the unity and integrity of regions and the state. The party has expressed faith that all the issues and disputes could be resolved through dialogue. The party has promised to “restructure the Constitution of the state into a federal set-up by setting up separate regional councils for Jammu and Kashmir.” This could be furthered by “decentralization and devolution of powers to district and block level councils to ensure effective participation of people in the democratic system.” Besides, the party has laid emphasis on setting up a delimitation commission to restructure the legislative assembly constituencies. The manifesto also speaks of consolidating the Panchayati

BJP

Making Jammu Epicenter Of Power Raj system.

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n essentially drab document, the BJP manifesto does not reflect intellectual prowess its 'thinking luminaries' like Arun Jaitly who is party's in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir affairs. Otherwise, the party's trademark penchant for abrogation of Article 370 would not have been missing from the manifesto which talks about empowerment of regions with Jammu as epicenter of power. The document makes no mention of Article 370 of the Indian constitution that grants special status to the state. The 16-point manifesto focuses mostly on the alleged discrimination of Hindu-majority Jammu region at Epilogue Ø 27 × December 2008

the hands of Jammu and Kashmir's dominantly Muslim rulers. But it made no mention of article 370 that entitles Jammu and Kashmir to have its own citizenship laws, forbids non-permanent residents from buying immovable assets, gaining jobs or admission in professional institutions. The BJP has for decades campaigned against article 370, saying only its abolition would firmly tie Jammu and Kashmir to the rest of India. In the manifesto, the BJP promised to do away with regional imbalances in the state, appoint provincial councils and grant citizenship rights to refugees from


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Defying The Sterotypes

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otwithstanding iconic presence of leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and new symbols of women voice like Shabnam Ghani Lone, parties have been cold to the women in giving a fair representation to contest assembly elections but the fair sex is breaking barriers. As a large number of the fairer sex contests the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir this time, people are waiting to see if a 36year-old record for the highest number of women in the Assembly will be broken. It was in 1972 that four women were elected to the legislature, which still remains the highest figure for women MLAs in the state. Zainab Begum, Hajra Begum, Shanta Bharti and Nirmala Devi made it to the Assembly then while four other female contestants -- Khem Lata Wakhloo, Amina Begum, Hassan Ara Begum and Misra Bano -- lost their security deposits after getting very few votes. All women were elected on Congress tickets. This year a large number of women, more than 30, are in the fray in the state and it remains to be seen whether the 36-year-old record will be broken or they will have to wait for the next elections. As many as 10 women candidates are in the fray in the first three phases of elections and a large number are expected to contest in the remaining phases. While some political observers say the boycott of polls by National Conference in the last polls helped the Congress candidates across the state to win, others negate this claim on the ground that most National Conference leaders took part in elections as

70 Independent candidates. However, after 1972, it has been downhill for women as their numbers only declined. Kashmiri women are not just stepping out to vote in the ongoing elections, but to get voted into office. This is the first time that a sizeable number of female candidates are standing for election, defying stereotype. Traditionally, the woman in Jammu and Kashmir are perceived to be housebound. But the new wave of wannabe women legislators have very personal reasons for entering the political arena. For Shabnum Ghani Lone, daughter of the slain separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone, it was the people's will. "They want their miseries to end," says Lone, who is contesting as an independent candidate from Kupwara constituency. Social worker Seher Iqbal, who is contesting on a PDP ticket from Kokarnag constituency in south Kashmir, says her candidature is an attempt to help solve the Valley's problems. Iqbal helped with rehabilitation work after the Uri earthquake in 2005. She says, "conflicting situations need creative solutions" and her way of arriving at a solution would be to "give priority to developmental work." AT 27, she is the youngest woman in the fray in J&K ever who will face the ballot on December 17. There are different reasons driving young mother Gowsia Bashir, to seek the people's mandate. Bashir wants to highlight excesses against women in Kashmir. "I will expose the exploiters of women once I am elected an MLA. There is a need to protect Kashmiri women," insists the outspoken woman, who has Epilogue Ă˜ 28 Ă— December 2008

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DISTRICT JAMMU 11 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Nagrota, 64,230 (33,230M, 31,000F); Gandhi Nagar, 1,52,100 (78,663M, 73,437F); Jammu East, 55,062 (28,196M, 26,866F); Jammu West, 1,45,549 (74,383M, 71,166F); Bishnah, 83,936 (42,328M, 41,608F); R.S. Pura, 75,646 (38,504M, 37,142F); Suchetgarh, 58,238 (28,691M, 29,547F); Marh, 66,313 (33,751M, 32,562F); Raipur Domana 90,520 (46,348M, 44,172F); Akhnoor, 83,296 (41,655M, 41,641F); Chhamb, 68,499 (32,796M, 35,703F)

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efore its division, Jammu had 13 constituencies and Congress won 8 in 2002; one each went to BJP, Panthers Party, NC, BSP and an independent. BJP used the Amarnath land row to its full to gain the ground; it did gain but the effect appears fizzling out as polling date comes closer. The Hindutva vote stands divides between BJP and its 'like-minded parties'. Ability of Congress to repeat 2002 success cannot be undermined even as NC and BSP are two other active players. This imminent division of BJP vote bank is a sure advantage of Congress. Success in this district holds key to the survival of both BJP and Congress. Contrary to expectations, Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti is not playing any active role in campaign.


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contested from Bandipora constituency.

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Though each of them marches to a different drummer, all these aspiring women politicians are united in their freedom from fear of defeat. Lawyer Shameema Firdaus is a case in point. She lost the last time she contested from Habba Kadal constituency but this time she is confident "people will vote for me as the previous MLA deceived them" Firdaus is a NC nominee.

But it is not just Kashmir that is seeing more women candidates than before. Jammu has several as well. Tabassum Bano is contesting from Poonch-Haveli Assembly constituency as the J&K National Panthers Party candidate; her opponent is Sarita Sharma of the Bhartiya Chaitanya Party. But J&K is about as far as female participation in politics goes. There are no women candidates in pristine Ladakh's four constituencies.

3 Constituencies Total Vote Count : Surankote, 84,969 (43,442M, 41,527F); Mendhar, 77,853 (39,023M, 38,830F); Poonch-Haveli, 96,758 (49,642M, 47,116F)

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aste factor between Gujjars and Paharis is loaded heavily in this district. Eleven Pahari candidates are pitted against one Gujjar (Javed Rana of NC) in Mendhar but towards end of campaign non-Gujjar saw consolidation in favour of PDP's Rafiq Khan. Contest is neck to neck. Congress handpicked a Gujjar from NC for Poonch seat but backfired by consolidation of non-Gujjar vote towards NC nominee. In Surankote RS MP and former state Congress president Choudhary Aslam is pitted against Mushtaq Bukhari of NC who earlier won twice. Bukhari's cousin is a PDP nominee and may eventually help Aslam regain constituency after two decades. All parties and candidates are playing the dangerous caste factor well development issues are though being talked about by electors.

Social activists Sehar Iqbal is PDP nominee from Kokernag constituency in South Kashmir. Epilogue Ă˜ 29 Ă— December 2008


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The ‘Lone’ Challenger

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midst anti-poll campaign and call of social boycott of those contesting assembly elections, the separatist p ol i ti c a l s p e c tru m i n Kashmir finally has a genuine contest 'within' which underlines that elections for forming a government and the vexed 'Kashmir issue' are two different processes altogether. Separatist 'stalwart' Sajjad Lone and his brother Bilal Lone of the Peoples Conference (founded by their father Abdul Ghani Lone) are out on a well drawn up anti-poll campaign in Kashmir. They don't have the well explained and cogent reasons for opposing polls but their bottomline is that elections have to be opposed because they don't lead towards resolution of Kashmir. This may true in that context but after all government are also required for running day to day affairs of the public life which, of course, cannot be held hostage to the issue which has been lingering on for six decades. Closer to home and much closer to heart, the sister of Lone brothers, Shabnam Lone has filed her nomination papers as an independent candidate from Kupwara constituency which goes to polls in third phase of elections on November 30. Shabnam's participation is an election is not a token presence and apparently not at all any ploy which may be difficult to understand. "I am serious and my people are much serious about it", says the Supreme Court lawyer Lone who has left the separatists in Kashmir surprised. Shabnam challenges Mir Saifullah of National Conference who has represented Kupwara twice since 1996.

Not only Kupwara constituency, a significantly major part of Kupwara district in North Kashmir draws an influence from ideology of slain Hurriyat leader Abdullah Gani Lone. A moderate face and ready with imaginative ideas on Kashmir, Lone was shot dead by unidentified militants in May 2002, the day then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee reached J&K on a two-day tour. As Vajpayee had come with his proposal of resolving Kashmir issue under the 'ambit of humanity' (breaking far from clichéd four wall of constitution), it was widely expected that Lone may meet the Prime Minister to give a new shape to the dialogue process but this initiative was cut short by mysterious bullets that afternoon. Six years down the line, the Lone brothers have tried to do well keeping his name alive, but it is their sister which appears to have donned mettle of the father and represent his people. Shabnam says, "I have been forced by the supporters and followers of my father to represent them where exactly they need someone to speak for them". She admits that Kashmir issue can't be resolved through elections but firmly believes that elections are important democratic exercise of empowering people. Observers believe Shabnam would not have been the lone aspirant to represent people had her father Abdul Ghani Lone been alive. The Kupwara is the north district of Kashmir valley which is going to polls for five seats of Karnah, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara and Langate on November 30, 2008. The Kupwara district is having 341946 electors and a total of 448 polling booths are being set up across Epilogue Ø 30 × December 2008

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DISTRICT RAJOURI 4 Constituencies Total Vote Count : No wsh era, 8 4 , 6 5 7 ( 4 3 , 4 0 6 M, 41,251F); Darhal, 88,186 (45,488M, 42,698F); Rajouri, 105271 (54,323M, 50,948F); Kalakote, 75,343 (39,312M, 36,031F)

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n three of four constituencies of this caste-sensitive district, there should have been a triangular contest between NC, Congress and PDP but an unexpected storm by deserters has changed entire scheme of things. Now it is neither between any party or any caste. Contest is about merits; individual winning prospects, credibility and reputation of contests. Congress has a strong rebel in Ashok Sharma in Kalakote, Qamar Hussain in Rajouri and Iqbal Malik in Darhal. Choudhary Talib Hussain is NC rebel and MS Tariq PDP rebel in Rajouri. NC and Congress face straight contest in Nowshera. NC had won three seats in 2002; this time tally is not likely to go beyond one.


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the north Kashmir district of Kupwara.

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DISTRICT SHOPIAN 2 Constituencies Total Vote Count: 1,39,475 Wachi, 68,388 (35,262M, 33,126F); Shopian, 71,087 (37,040M, 34,047F)

According to official figures Kupwara Assembly segment leads the district with the largest electorate of 90,805 which includes 47,131 male and 43,674 female voters. "Shabnam has a chance to win in Kupwara constituency as her father has done a lot for the area" said Advocate Bushan Lal Pandita, a Kashmiri Pandit, who originally belongs to the same district and now resides in Jammu.

Elections in Kupwara district are up for an interestingly battle as the 2002 element of proxy is missing. In 2002, the Peoples Conference of Sajjad Lone had fielded and supported proxy candidates in Kupwara and Handwara constituencies. Sofi Ghulam Mohiuddin, a staunch follower of Lone, won from Handwara defeating NC stalwart Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan. This time the Lone brothers are leading an anti-election campaign. Not it has to be seen as how democracy responds to call of brothers and sister.

Mehbooba Mufti is seeking election from Wachi which Mohammad Khalil Naik of CPI(M) represented in 2002. Her decision to contest from Wachi speaks of overconfidence as Muftis have never moved out of Anantnag-Bijbehara-Pahalgam triangle. There are at least 20 other candidates and most of them independents. Shopian was represented by PDP's Ghulam Hassan Khan in 2002 but this time he has been denied ticket as last year he was named in the infamous Srinagar sex scandal. He has, however, jumped into fray as an independent candidate. National Conference has fielded Showkat Hussain Ganai in Wachhi and Shabir Ahmad Kullay in Shopian. Both are new faces.

Our previous issue on J&K Elections Epilogue Ă˜ 31 Ă— December 2008


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GANDERBAL

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mar's chief polling agent has declared the results even before votes are counted. He says 'Omar has won' and for that he has extended thanks to the people of Ganderbal. A lackluster performance of Omar rival Qazi Afzal of PDP who remained embroiled in controversies during five years as Minister is still not enough a ticket for Omar's entry to legislative assembly and restoration of constituency to the family.

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BHADARWAH

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zad remained in national politics for over 30 years but never won any election from the home state till by-election to assembly in 2006 came his way. He wanted to create history. No campaigning; not even a visit to constituency. Azad won by a huge margin. This time he has a campaign schedule drawn out. NC has fielded former Advocate General Aslam Goni who is giving a tough contest. BJP's Daya Kishan Kotwal too is strength to reckon with. No candidate in last 46 years has won twice from here. Azad will have to break this jinx.

HAZRATBAL

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fter he went nearly missing in action in 2002, Farooq Abdullah is this time contesting election for himself and has been declared as party's Chief Ministerial candidate. Hazratbal is an NC turf held by straight since 1952. PDP and ANC are giving sleepless nights to NC.

JAMMU WEST

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hotbed of Amarnath land agitation, this constituency has BJP's Chaman Lal Gupta, a former Union Minister and Congress' Mangat Ram Sharma, a former Deputy Chief Minister of state locked in a tough contest. Mangat had won in 2002 when BJP had no strong candidate. Jammu State Morcha is a potential entity to cut votes of BJP this time.

ANANTNAG

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DP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is seeking election from his home district constituency against Dr Mehboob Baig of National Conference. Baig won here in 2002 and earlier in 1983 and it was his illustrious father Mirza Afzal Baig who had wrested Anantnag in 1977. It is Mufti's overconfidence which brings him to Anantnag. Epilogue Ø 32 × December 2008

DISTRICT KULGAM 4 Constituencies Total Vote Count: 2,83,733 Noorabad, 61, 136 (32,263M, 28,873F); Kulgam, 80,793 (41,826M, 38,967F); Home Shalibug, 65,657 (33,668M, 31,989F); Devsar, 76,147 (39,692M, 36,455F)

Except Kulgam proper seat, this district has significant stronghold of the PDP. Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami of CPI(M) represented Kulgam twice since 1996 and is now seeking election for third time. Congress and NC have gone soft against him but PDP is posing a tough challenge. If Abdul Aziz Zargar is able to recapture Noorabad constituency, this will be a history of sorts. Zargar is one of the only three living signatories of the J&K constituent assembly. Two others –Comrade KD Sethi and Ram Piara Saraf –are leading a retired life while Zargar is still active in public life.


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WACHI

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his constituency in newly created Shopian district has been held by National Conference from 1977 to 1996. Mohammad Khalil Naik of CPI(M) won in 2002 by wafer thin margin of 40 votes and perhaps this what has attracted PDP president Mehbooba Mufti to take on him this time.

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SOPORE DISTRICT ANANTNAG 6 Constituencies Total Vote Count: 4,20,534 Anantnag, 75,000 (38,325M, 36,675F); Dooru, 61,824 (32,132M, 29,692F); Kokernag, 69,604 (36,619M, 32,985F); Shangus, 70,159 (36,489M, 33,670F); Bijbehara, 75,518 (38,384M, 37,134F); Pa h a l g a m , 6 8 , 4 2 9 ( 3 5 , 3 0 0 M , 33,129F)

PDP nearly wiped out NC in Anantnag in 2002. The only solace for NC was Anantnag proper seat which Dr Mehbooba Beg won. But this time he has been challenged by PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Contest is tough. Kokernag was won by Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed of Congress who was earlier this year eased out of Ghulam Nabi Azad cabinet on corruption charges. This time he has been challenged by a political novice of PDP –Sehar Iqbal, a social worker and daughter of a top J&K bureaucrat. This district has a significant population of Gujjars –the community PDP made all possible efforts to woo since 2002.

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his is home constituency of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the proPakistan separatist hardliner. He won from here as Jamat-eIslami candidates in 1972, 77 and 1987 before he launched he launched a campaign for Azadi. NC stalwart Abdul Ahad Vakil won in 1996 and lost to Abdul Rashid of Congress in 2002. Geelani's influence still reigns supreme and only 8.9 per cent votes were polled last time. Former MP and former state Congress president Ghulam Rasool Kar has revolted against part and is an independent candidate among 23 others.

KUPWARA

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except two exceptions, Kupwara has been with National Conference since 1957. Its candidate Mir Saifullah is seeking election for third time. Election in this segment is most interesting scene anywhere in the Valley. Shabnam Lone, the daughter of Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone and sister of Sajjad and Bilal Lone of Peoples Conference is seeking election. Sajjad and Bilal's anti-election campaign failed to influence their sister and electorate of Kupwara.

JAMMU EAST

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JP's state president Ashok Khajuria is contesting against a Congress dummy Narinder Singh, former Mayor of City. Khajuria won here in 1996 and lost in 2002. This time he is in strong position –courtesy Amarnath land row but still it is not an easy going for him. There are at least three other candidates equally banking on vote bank which makes Khajuria confident.

NAGROTA

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cion of Dogra dynasty and son of former Sadre-e-Reyasat, Ajat Shatru Singh is NC candidate from this constituency on outskirts of Jammu City. Congress has fielded a Gujjar candidate in view of significant Muslim population here. Both have strong rebels from their own parties in the constituency which BJP wrested from Ajat Shatru in 2002 by 67 votes. Nagrota is unique in not repeating any candidate since creation of this constituency. Epilogue Ø 33 × December 2008


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Headed for Hung Assembly

4

4 is the magic number required in the House of 87 to form government in Jammu a n d K a s h m i r. A s t h e electioneering heats up, parties open their cards and people break silence on their day, it appears that no party is likely to reach anywhere closer to the magic number. At a closer look of public mood, the planks on which elections are being fought and a host of other reasons including insurmountable rebellion in almost all parties one can cautiously conclude that highest tally of any party is likely to be around just a little halfway the magic number. An essential ingredient of electioneering, in their public meetings all parties, including Panthers Party, BJP and BSP, are claiming that they are poised to form the next government. However, if reliable insiders are to be believed, in their private meetings no party is able to peg its tally above 30. This is what Epilogue team also concludes from a statewide survey. The one which gets something between 25 to 30 seats is likely to be the largest party on floor of next legislative assembly but no guarantee of forming government. Independents and smaller parties are likely to emerge as key players in government formation. Indications are clear for a Hung House and Congress in any case is likely to be a part of the ruling formation after results are out. Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference joining hands to form government in Jammu and Kashmir can be nothing less than BJP and Congress striking an alliance at New Delhi or Osama bin Laden and George Bush launching a joint war against global terrorism. Usually the pre-election waves set trends for position of parties. This time there are no sweeping waves. There are

a multitude of factors specific to individual constituencies and individual districts. No party is seen having a dominant wave even in any single region despite the fact the regional divides in Jammu and Kashmir too are deep. A team of Epilogue comprising staffers and over two dozen volunteers traveled across different parts of state between October 30 and November 27 to gauge the public mood. At an average of 20 to 25 respondents per constituency, a total of 1914 people were spoken to in all 87 segments to elicit their views on winning prospects of parties and candidates. The verdict again appears to be divided. It is not overwhelmingly in favour of any party or against the other as the mood varies from case to case and place to place. In Kashmir Valley there are similarities and dissimilarities in views as one travels from South to North. Ever ready to rend a slogan for Azadi, the men and women, the young and old all have an appetite for mainstream politics. They don't find anything in manifestos of political parties which can actually change destiny of Kashmir. Still enthusiasm is high. It reflects upon the local issues and local loyalties with contesting candidates. A surprisingly high number of independent candidates, mushrooming small and newer parties and landing of local candidates of national political parties have made the election in many constituencies of Kashmir Valley more or less like a lottery ticket. Who wins or who is in a winning position is not known to even the one who may actually win on December 28 when the votes are counted. In 2002 the National Conference had emerged largest party in Kashmir Epilogue Ă˜ 34 Ă— December 2008

56

55

DISTRICT RAMBAN 2 Constituencies Vote Count : Ramban, 77,400 (40,287M, 37,113F); Banihal, 70,483 (36,998M, 33,485F)

Ramban constituency is reserved for Scheduled Castes while the neighbouring Banihal always witnesses a unique contest –between urban and rural aspirants. Well, there are no urban areas in Banihal except a small township on JammuSrinagar National Highway but people don't prefer candidates who permanently or temporarily reside in this township. It was this reason which saw Maulvi Abdul Rashid winning as a NC rebel in 2002 against party's official nominee. Maulvi later joined Congress but has been denied ticket. Congress has fielded a quite youngster who lives in the township. PDP is also facing rebellion. In Ramban it is a contest between BJP and NC


I N

F O C U S

COVER STORY

A team of Epilogue comprising staffers and over two dozen volunteers traveled across different parts of state between October 30 and November 27 to gauge the public mood. At an average of 20 to 25 respondents per constituency, a total of 1914 people were spoken to in all 87 segments to elicit their views on winning prospects of parties and candidates. The verdict again appears to be divided. It is not overwhelmingly in favour of any party or against the other as the mood varies from case to case and place to place.

87 Expected 2008

2002 tally

NC

24 to 26

28

PDP

20 to 22

16

Congress18 to 20

20

BJP

04 to 06

1

Others*

15 to 19

22

*Panthers Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Peoples Democratic Party Front (S), Democratic Party (N), Awami National Conference, Ladakh Union Territory Front, Independents, CPI(M) & Other Smaller Parties

Epilogue Ă˜ 35 Ă— December 2008


I N

F O C U S

COVER STORY

winning 18 seats. Despite antiincumbency factor and the devastating Amarnath land low, the NC tally is apparently not poised for any surprise up. With loss of a couple of more seats in North Kashmir and a gain of two to four seats in Central and South Kashmir, the NC tally is likely to hover around 20 to 22 seats in the Valley. Though in a bid to undo mistakes of 2002, the NC fielded 31 in new faces out of 46 seats in the Valley but this has backfired. Its sulking aspirants either jumped into the PDP bandwagon or have joined fray as independent candidates. NC is expected to retain its one seat in Kargil and reap dividends of its tacit support to the Ladakh Union Terriroty Front in Leh but again in Jammu region prospects are not quite bright. In Jammu, NC had secured nine seats in 2002 but this time scenario is not promising; strong rebellion at two seats and fallout of Amarnath land row communalism at two more may bring the tally down even as it may recapture one seat in Doda which the party lost in 2002. Peoples Democratic Party appears to have done a sort of engineering and an astute strategic planning in handling its election exercise. Its Self Rule proposal though does well to cut the separatist sentiment in Kashmir but, after all, slogans are not enough to catch votes. It needs planning. The ticket distribution in PDP has been done in a manner that it has taken opponents by surprise. For example, Pahalgam is a safe bet for PDP but the father or daughter –Mufti or Mehbooba –are not contesting on this home turf. Instead they have fielded a former NC MLA who joined PDP a couple of years back and was subsequently nominated to the Legislative Council. Mufti himself has taken on NC strongman Dr Mehbooba Beig in Anantnag. For any other PDP candidate

standing against Baig could have been just like a ceremonial contest. Now Mufti gets in tough contest with Beig and may even win. Mehbooba has moved out of Anantnag district and is s e e k i n g e l e c t i o n f r o m Wa c h i , represented by Khalil Naik of CPI(M). Naik is a thorough gentleman devoted to his people but Mehbooba's charisma is likely to have an easy going in Wachi. PDP had won 16 seats in the Valley and its tally is expected to move upwards by around four seats this time. It has been able to make inroads in Srinagar City which has long been a traditional bastion of the National Conference. In Jammu region, PDP may open its account by one to two seats even as party has a serious contest at six of the 37 seats in the region. Congress has been a lone sufferer of its own making –the communally surcharged Amarnath land row. But still there are no major reasons for disappointment. The parties Congress should have been worried about have actually come of a help to it. Main influence and emphasis of Congress is in Jammu region and it has very little to catch in the Valley. And it was in Jammu that BJP and other Hindutva parties pushed the Congress to wall during Amarnath land row. At one point of time (during Amarnath agitation) it appeared that Congress is about to get wiped out but the strength its opponents gathered eventually turned into their weakness. Most of the parties which spearheaded agitation are now contesting separately –BJP, Jammu State Morcha, Shiv Sena etc. This is a sure division of votes which otherwise had to go against the Congress. Adding to this division are Panthers Party and Bahujan Samaj Party who may not pocket much seats but have the built up capacity of taking away a significant vote share. Congress

Epilogue Ø 36 × December 2008

had won 15 seats in Jammu region in 2002 and later six independents joined the party as associate members. Four of them have been given party tickets. Put together, the party may not be in a position to repeat its 2002 tally as losses at four to five constituencies are quite visible at the hands of rebels joining the fray as independents. It had won five seats in the Valley last time and securing half of this tally in present elections will not be less than a surprise. If BJP were in a position to consolidate its 'gains' of Amarnath agitation, the party could have been able to take home around 10 to 12 seats. Probably to keep its image at the national level, the party did not enter to into a seat sharing arrangements with leaders of agitation and preferred to go it alone. Now most of the parties and leaders, in their individual capacities, who toiled for two months to keep Jammu burning during land agitation, are in the fray against each other. Amidst such huge division of votes, if BJP is able to secure four to five seats it will be a big victory ever. Bahujan Samaj Party is contesting on more than 60 seats and so is Panthers Party. Both parties could have won half a dozen seats each had they concentrated on not more than twice as many constituencies. Their participation on more than two-thirds of total seats in Jammu and Kashmir may certainly bring them a significant voter share but not exactly the seats. Other keen players in Kashmir Valley are Peoples Democratic Front of Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, Democratic Party of Ghulam Hassan Mir, Awami National Conference of GM Shah, CPI(M) and some potentially strong independent candidates.

EPILOGUE DECEMBER 2008  

20 22 23 25 26 27 28 30 32 34 I N F O C U S Associate Editor Irm Amin Baig 11 Volume 2, Issue 11, December 2008 Assembly Election 2008 Who S...

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