In New Kashmir, political parties may be forced to ditch separatism

In New Kashmir, political parties may be forced to ditch separatism



abrogation of the special status

“Now that New Delhi removed all ambiguity about J&K’s relationship with the rest of India, everything has changed. We are now like the rest of the country, instead of a special state whose future was uncertain between India and Pakistan. The matter has been settled and from here on political parties will have to contest on governance issues rather than separatism, soft-separatism and autonomy — which were shades of the same underlying conflict since 1947. The political agenda of all the regional parties in Kashmir stands irrelevant today,” Mudassir, a young political activist aspiring to enter regional politics told TOI in Srinagar.

According to insiders in the Hurriyat, the conglomerate of separatist and Islamist groups, the younger generation among them is keen to join the mainstream. “There is a realization that separatism, which sustained on funding from both Pakistan and India, hasn’t helped Kashmiri society. The bloodshed hurt Kashmiris the most while the top leadership among separatists and their children lived a lavish life. The second and third-rung separatists would rather be part of the democratic system in Kashmir today,” a separatist who did not want to be named said in Hazratbal area.

Sources in NC said party president

Farooq Abdullah

With the leadership of the pro-Pakistan banned organization Jamat-e-Islami behind bars, PDP chief

Mehbooba Mufti

is also assessing her options. A politician who worked closely with the Muftis told TOI, “Jamat votes were fundamental to PDP’s rise to power in Kashmir. But after the crackdown on separatists and Jamaat, PDP is finished. As of today, it seems, the party will break into several factions.


had already alienated senior leaders by handing over the reins of the party to her family members during her coalition government with the BJP. Also, very few in the party want to continue with her rabid anti-India politics now. Everyone knows that the old political game is over,” he said.

Close friends of

Shah Faesal

, who quit civil services last year and set up a new political party on the lines of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, told TOI that he might benefit from the uncertainty and political baggage that the Abdullahs and Muftis carry. “He has served as an Indian bureaucrat in Kashmir and he has been promising to deliver something new. He is a clean slate that way, even as he has been sending out contrarian and confusing messages on social media. But then he has massive youth fan following,” a friend who works in tourism industry said.

BJP sources said it might accommodate People’s Conference headed by Sajad Lone, the only political party that openly backed the Modi government, if they arrive at “some agreement”.

But the most important kingmaker in Kashmir politics, party sources said, would be the members of the recently-elected panchayats and local bodies. “A lot of young, bright and progressive Kashmiris who contested elections when everyone else boycotted will be a formidable force soon,” Mir Junaid told TOI.

Junaid (27), a socio-political activist from Langate, north Kashmir, has been at the forefront of engaging youth of Kashmir for last several years. He was instrumental in galvanising candidates for panchayat and local body elections held recently. Out of his 2774 candidates, 2368 won including 712 women in panchayat elections and out of 245 candidates, 135 won in municipal polls.

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Political parties may be forced to give up separatism in J&K


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