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Sandeep Madkar asked: Is the projection of popular alienation of Kashmiri people from India a perception or reality?

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  • Arpita Anant replies: There is some sense of ‘alienation’ from the rest of the country among sections of people in the Kashmir Valley. There are several separatist groups in the Valley who have a varying degree of influence on the people. Therefore, in some areas of the Valley, their call for a boycott of the Assembly elections of 2008 had resulted in very low voter turn out.

    However, it would be incorrect to state that all sections of people are ‘alienated’ to this extent and in this manner. The high voter turn out in the panchayat elections of 2011 in the Kashmir Valley indicates the willingness of the people to participate in democratic processes. Moreover, people are actively participating in the several development initiatives taken by the government. More recently, there has been some writing on the various meanings of ‘azadi’; so the nature and extent of ‘alienation’ needs to be assessed in the light of these various meanings. The government (State and Union) has also undertaken several initiatives to enable greater interaction between people in the Valley and those in the rest of the country.