World, Asia - Pacific

Indian premier hails Kashmir elections amid lockdown

Pro-India leaders remain in detention, major political parties boycott vote

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 25.10.2019
Indian premier hails Kashmir elections amid lockdown


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed the "historic turnout" of local elections in the Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has remained under near-complete lockdown for 82 days in a row.

The elections were the first since Aug. 5 when the government scrapped all special provisions granted to the disputed region, which is held in parts and claimed in full by both India and Pakistan.

“It would make India’s Parliament proud that due to their historic decision in August this year, the people of J&K have been able to exercise their democratic right with exceptional enthusiasm, as seen in the historic turnout of 98% that too without violence or disturbance,” Modi said in a tweet.

His high-spirited statement comes despite a boycott of the election by all major political parties as many pro-India leaders remain in detention.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could only win 81 seats out of 280. Most of the winners were independent candidates who contested unopposed.

The Indian government claimed to have eased restrictions in recent days lifting curfew and restoring landline and postpaid phone services. However, reports coming from the ground reveal schools and businesses are shut and roads are deserted.
Activists term it as civil disobedience against the Indian rule.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.

The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.

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