Kashmir, Bharatiya Janata Party, India, Ladakh, Jammu-Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, Modi, Pakistan, Southern Asia

Kashmir, Bharatiya Janata Party

Local elections test Modi's influence in disputed Kashmir

Kashmiris vote to elect members of their local councils in first elections since India annexed the region last year

11/28/2020 4:15:00 PM

Kashmir is vote to elect members of their local councils in first elections since India annexed the region last year

Voting takes place amid heavy security presence in first direct elections in India -administered Kashmir since New Delhi annexed the region last year.

No legislative powers to elected members The elected members have no legislative powers and are only responsible for the economic development and public welfare of the region.Officials are also simultaneously conducting the election for hundreds of vacant seats in village councils that remained uncontested during 2018 polls.

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At a polling booth in the Kashmir valley, Faizi, 70, told she had voted "to facilitate development work, like paving the roads."The BJP has a very small base in the Kashmir valley, the heart of the decades-old anti-India insurgency, but has significant support in four Hindu-majority districts in the Jammu area.

The Kashmiri alliance has accused the government of interfering with their campaigning, a charge denied by the Election Commission.The alliance also accused authorities of putting its top leader Mehbooba Mufti, a former top elected official and ally of Modi, under house arrest on Friday.  headtopics.com

Police denied Mufti was restricted to her home.READ MORE:An Indian security personnel stands guard as voters stand in a queue to cast their ballots at a polling station in Shamsabad area of Budgam district on November 28, 2020. (AFP)Loyalty to Modi administration 

Many of the 296 candidates up for election Saturday have been lodged in hotels because of security concerns. In the past, rebels have targeted candidates.Some Kashmiris view the polls cynically as a move to create a new political elite loyal to the Modi government.

"This is an ideological vote," said Najeeb Khan, a voter in Srinagar, the region's main city. "People are considering it a referendum against the BJP."Ali Muhammad Tantray, a candidate of the local National Conference party, said, "The people want to keep the BJP at bay because of the oppression the people of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh witnessed from the Indian government that was very threatening."

Arif Laigroo, a voter said, "This election has nothing political. It is absolutely the election for development."  Armed conflict Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both rivals claim the region in its entirety.  headtopics.com

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Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.New Delhi calls Kashmir militancy Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris call it a legitimate struggle for freedom.Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels, and Indian forces have been killed in the conflict. Read more: TRT World »

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