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   Newsletter of the Indian Progressive Study Group, Los Angeles

                             August 1996

Imminent Assembly Elections in Kashmir

The government of India has just announced that it will hold elections 
for the state legislative assembly in Kashmir in September. The state has 
been ruled directly from New Delhi for the last six years with the help 
of the army and the paramilitary forces. Ahead of the polls, the new UF 
government in Delhi has announced a number of measures for investment in 
light industry, trade and so on, making it clear that funds will be 
available to those who will form the next government. Various national 
parties have made alliances with local parties to fight the election and 

All this is taking place in the midst of a very turbulent period in the 
history of Kashmir. Large number of people have died in this period in 
the hands of the security forces. Massive numbers of refugees have been 
dislocated for years on end. Widespread violations of human rights have 
been documented by official and unofficial agencies from around the 

The government of India has asserted that the problems in Kashmir have 
been the work of Pakistani agents. Now an impression has been created as 
if the Kashmir problem will disappear if a government can be installed 
through an election and more money can be sent to this government. 
Similar approaches (surrogates and money) in the past in Punjab or the 
states in the North-East of India have been accompanied by an escalation 
of the state repression against the local inhabitants even when the local 
population had overwhelmingly boycotted the elections. There is a need 
for people of Kashmir and others to be vigilant at this time and resist 
all violations of rights. Indian elections have never solved the problem 
of empowering people to determine their affairs and this election is 
bound to be no different.