Danish Ismail / REUTERS A Kashmiri student throws back a tear-gas canister fired by Indian police during a protest in Srinagar, April 2017. 

A New Season of Turmoil in Kashmir

Harsh Counterinsurgency Tactics Have Led to Mass Frustration

With spring, yet more turmoil has come to significant parts of Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. Widespread violence has resulted in several deaths and has left at least 200 injured. The trigger this time appears to have been elections for two vacant seats in the Indian Parliament. One seat, in the capital city of Srinagar, had been vacated after its holder, Tariq Hameed Karra, quit the Peoples Democratic Party in a dispute over the handling of political disturbances in the state last year. The other seat had been empty since the current chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, left it last year to assume her present role after the death of her father, the veteran Kashmiri politician Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

As the April 2017 elections approached, various separatist organizations in the state, including the umbrella organization, the All Party Hurriyat Conference, called for a boycott. This was nothing new, and on previous occasions, most Kashmiris ignored the instructions and turned out to the polls in substantial numbers. This time, however, even the capital city, Srinagar, saw a precipitous decline in voter turnout. A mere 7.14 percent of the eligible electorate turned up to the polls during the first week of April—the worst showing in three decades. Violence was so widespread in the other constituency, Anantnag, that one of the candidates asked the election commission to postpone the election until late May, which it did.

These events reflect growing discontent among many Kashmiris. Government apologists in New Delhi may point to Pakistani chicanery and instigation as the source of the problem, but the fact is that harsh Indian counterinsurgency policies in the state are also to blame.

A REPRESSIVE STRATEGY

There is, of course, little question that Pakistan’s political leadership views the recent turmoil with considerable glee. Furthermore, there is evidence that Pakistan has long provided both material and other forms of support to Kashmiri separatists, who have been waging a campaign against the Indian state since 1989. Worse still, Pakistan has also aided a host of

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