India is Renewing Election Propaganda in Kashmir

March 27, 2024


In August 2019, when India revoked the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, advancing its settler-colonial project, it also imprisoned its stooges in Kashmir. These stooges were affiliated with the different client governments – from the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party , and have been serving as the local representatives of India’s colonialism since 1947. However, when it came to the setting up of a settler colonial project in Kashmir to serve the broader Hindutva state agenda, these people were deemed dispensable and made irrelevant to the politics of the region, as the indian government took direct control through its lieutenant governors, such as Manoj Sinha. Now, over four years after the abrogation, when India wants to use the farce of democracy to cover up its rapidly advancing settler colonial agenda, and give it some legitimacy, there has been a resurgence of these people, along with new faces.



What exactly is happening?


In the past few weeks, social media in Kashmir has been abuzz with some young Kashmiris proposing “participation” in the indian electoral politics as a way to “fix” the situation of the region. At the same time, older faces have also resurfaced, proposing the same thing for Kashmir to “progress”. According to this logic, Kashmiris should participate in the elections to keep right-wing parties, like the BJP, at bay.  One user wrote:


“Jamaat-e-Islami should have political representation & now, it is must from (for) them to enter the mainstream.”



Another one quipped:


“Jamat being a political party should feel no shame in entering electoral politics. Maybe they can even present a better version of politics here. But it should be clear that there are no ifs & buts, no ‘when this, then that’. Simply, accept the state and be a ‘good’ part of it.



The ‘Jamaat-e-Islami’ (JeI) being referred to in these posts is a religious organisation of Kashmir banned by the Indian government under the draconian UAPA. Only two weeks after these posts, the indian state launched a fresh witchhunt against JeI and its members, conducting raids and ceasing properties. The JeI, which has a sizeable presence in Kashmir, had over the years built a strong social presence as it does a lot of religious charity work and had also set up a network of schools. All their charity work was banned, and many of their schools seized, in the aftermath of the abrogation. Bringing in the Jamaat I Islami into electoral politics would have been considered a huge “win” for the Indian establishment to shift the demand towards better representation within the Indian system, instead of liberation form Indian colonial rule.


Along with this, there has also been support for the existing indian stooges as:


“Only strong and reliable political party in the J&K mainstream is @jkpdp. The voice of voiceless. The rest are allies of this regime.”




Those arrested in 2019 included long time Indian loyalists like the Abdullahs and Muftis, as well as the new technocrats like Shah Faesal. This was deemed to be a death blow to the standing of these people as india’s men/women in the region. However, with the parliamentary elections of india approaching, it seems that these people have resurfaced and are being  “made relevant” into the public discourse once again.



Why is it problematic to participate in indian elections?


The new discourse being built around “participating” in the system in order to change it is not novel and in fact was perfected by colonialism. It is problematic for a variety of reasons, some of which are:




1. Legitimizing Control:



In the colonial era, elections were often introduced in colonial territories as a means to legitimize the control of the colonial powers. By holding elections, colonial administrators aimed to present a façade of democracy and self-governance, while in reality maintaining a tight grip over the political process and ensuring outcomes favourable to colonial interests. The indian state is a colonizer vis-à-vis Kashmir and through these “democratic” elections, it only aspires to create a mirage of democracy that allows it to maintain control over Kashmir as it executes its settler colonial project.




2. Divide and Rule:



While this discourse around indian elections is being built, it is in turn also leading to dangerous polarisation of the Kashmiri society. This allows the indian state to use these elections to exacerbate existing religious, or political divisions within Kashmir, making it easier to control the population through the strategy of divide and rule. In other words, Kashmiris end up fighting amongst themselves instead of fighting against the colonizer.




3. False Sense of Power:



While elections under the indian constitution have been held in Kashmir ever since it occupied Kashmir, they have always been aimed at one central idea, “creating a sense of power” in Kashmir and also normalizing the occupation for international audiences. Casting a vote might make a person feel as if it was them who had a say in deciding the government, but it is an established fact that parties that do not agree with the occupation, are never allowed to come into power. A vast majority of the “elections” held in Kashmir have also been rigged. This was visibly demonstrated by the 1987 elections that were massively rigged in favour of Congress, defeating the Muslim United Front (MUF).




4. Paints a Picture of Assimilation:



While local politicians urge people to participate in the elections, claiming that it will serve their day to day interests of Sadak, Pani, and Bijli (Roads, Water and Electricity), India uses the elections to portray to the international community that Kashmiris are content with Indian rule. Thus, elections have served as one of the primary mechanisms of further Indian colonial rule in Kashmir and must be boycotted.


Hence, as the indian state pushes for “participation” in the system if one wants to change it, we must remember that these elections are not novel and in fact have always been the occupation’s tool to further occupation. Remember, if elections had the power to change anything in Kashmir, they would not have been allowed.



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Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a Kashmiri-driven independent, transnational, grassroots movement committed to standing in solidarity with the people of indian-occupied Kashmir in ending the indian occupation of their homeland and supporting the right to self-determination of the pre-partition state of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to hear from you. If you have general inquiries, suggestions, or concerns, please email us at


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