Jammu & Kashmir: Voting Fingers are Subduing Fingers on the Kalashnikovs

Indian Jammu & Kashmir lies close to areas of most strife in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and East Turkestan in China.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: http://www.dnaindia.com

SAINT QUENTIN  It became one of the most symbolic sentences in the campaign: “While a finger on the trigger of an AK-rifle takes a life, the one pressing a button on the EVM changes the destiny of a nation.”

In other part of the speech, the Indian Prime Minister used the same finger comparison to express the preference of the Kashmiri youth for a popular Indian smartphone over the typical jihadi rifle.

Narendra Modi was addressing the crowds in a rally in Samba responding to the attack coming from Pakistan at Uri that caused 12 victims among the security personnel.

The first two voting phases in Jammu & Kashmir showed an unprecedented level of participation going over the 70 percenta historical participation rate in Kashmirand this was probably the reason why the jihadis decided to invest heavily in a terror campaign that would counter such high participation rates. Taking in consideration that the border town of Uri where the most tragic terror attacks took place experienced a record 72 percent voting rate after the attacks, their campaign does not seem to be experiencing much success.

Voting will go on in the next few days and only by the end of the month will we know whether PM Modi will succeed in his “Mission 44.” The state parliament has 87 seats, and a party gets therefore an absolute majority with 44 seats. That seems too ambitious for a party that occupies presently the fourth place in the assembly (after the two traditional state parties and the Congress).

The BJPa party with its roots on the Hindu character of the countryis making impressive inroads within the Muslim population, and it actually presents several Muslim candidates in the state, but such a huge reversal of positions seems still unlikely for most of the observers.

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The battle for the change of mood of the majority of the population appears however to be going in the right direction as Jammu & Kashmir is heading away from its tense past when the jihadi movement ethnically cleansed the Kashmir valley and nearly managed to cause a civil war.

The bet for democracy and modernity against violence and intolerance that the Indian authorities are waging in this troubled area needs to be properly understood and supported in the West and its lessons must be taken in consideration elsewhere in the world where jihadism is striking, either in the regionIndian Jammu & Kashmir lies close to areas of most strife in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and East Turkestan in Chinaor elsewhere like in the Greater Middle East.

Paulo Casaca is Director of SADF. Read other articles by Paulo.