Press TV, Kashmir
Amid tough security measures, New Delhi has conducted the block development council elections across the bifurcated Kashmir region.
While the local politicians continue to be in jail, the region’s leading political parties boycotted this election in protest at New Delhi’s decision to scrap Kashmir’s special status in August.
In the first of its kind elections, the only contesting political party was the Hindu nationalist BJP, while the rest of the candidates declared themselves as independents.
Lawmaker Hasnain Masoodi accuses New Delhi of orchestrating these elections in a show of normalcy in the region.
Mehraj Rather is one of the candidates who joined this local political fray and is contesting from the northern district of Sumbal.
At a time when the situation in Kashmir is not conducive for any electoral process, New Delhi has imposed stringent security measure to ensure safe polls.
Since Kashmir's partial autonomy was revoked in August, the region has come to a standstill. Fearing backlash, authorities have launched an unprecedented clampdown in Kashmir, arresting politicians, lawyers, businessmen and pro-freedom activists.
In protest at India’s moves, Kashmiris have resorted to civil disobedience, protesting in the most peaceful manner, by closing businesses, shops and educational institutions.
After facing international criticism, New Delhi lifted some of the curbs and restrictions in a phased manner in Kashmir, but people say genuine efforts should be made to restore normalcy in the region.