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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Democratic revolution takes center stage as Kashmiris yearn for peace

'The slogans are powerful—‘Jail ka badla vote se’—it means we can fight back with our votes, not just our voices,' Wani, once an ardent supporter of the election boycott, told DH.
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 05:40 IST
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 05:40 IST

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Srinagar: The streets of Kashmir, once resounding with calls for outright ‘freedom’, now resonate with new voices advocating for a different kind of revolution - one through the ballot box, as seen in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls in the Union Territory (UT).

The new slogans, “Jail ka badla (revenge for jail) vote se (by vote)” and “Zulm ka badla (revenge for injustice) vote se,” gained traction with calls for a revolution through democratic means taking center stage relegating separatism and militancy to backseat.

In recent weeks’ discussions and debates about candidates, policies, and the power of the vote took center stage in offices, market places, homes, cafes and other venues across the Valley. Contesting candidates and their supporters urged people to turn their frustrations into a powerful electoral force.

The campaign slogans during political rallies of jailed independent candidate Engineer Rashid carried the intensity of separatist rallies of the past. However, new slogans appealed to those disillusioned with the mainstream parties in the Valley and were a part of “boycott politics.”

Similar slogans reverberated during the People's Democratic Party (PDP) candidate from Srinagar LS constituency Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, which had an impact in improving voter turnout in areas, where separatist sentiment runs deep.

Parra, who faced jail for 19 months under Sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and was released on bail by court in 2022, was successful in motivating a large number of youth angry with the system to turn their frustrations into a powerful electoral force.

In some of the rallies of the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting from Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat, such slogans charged up her supporters. In early years of her political journey, she was known for confronting the system, while espousing soft-separatism.

Bilal Wani, a voter from southern Pulwama district, said they had always shouted for ‘freedom’, “but this time, we tried to change things from within the system.”

“The slogans are powerful—‘Jail ka badla vote se’—it means we can fight back with our votes, not just our voices,” Wani, once an ardent supporter of the election boycott, told DH.

Same sentiments were echoed by Iqra, a fiery young woman who had lost her brother in a skirmish with security forces.

“We’ve suffered so much. But if we can channel our pain and anger into the democratic process, maybe we can finally bring about the change we need. Our voices in the Parliament and the Assembly will be our resistance,” she said.

After the successful culmination of Parliament polls, as people yearn for assembly elections, the new slogans have not just changed the course of an election; they have ignited a new hope, a belief that change was possible through peaceful means.

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Published 26 May 2024, 05:40 IST

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