Separatist leaders in Kashmir on Wednesday said that a huge voter turnout in the first phase of the assembly elections will have no bearing on the larger problem of the state.
Calling elections a "meaningless exercise", chairman of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said Jammu and Kashmir was an internationally-recognised dispute and the polls would have no bearing on it.
"It (polls) cannot change the historic reality that the state is an internationally-recognised dispute and needs to be resolved as per UN resolutions or through a meaningful dialogue process between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris," he said.
The separatists cut a sorry figure after the unexpected voting percentage in the first phase of Kashmir polls with people defying boycott calls of separatists and registering record participation in once-separatist bastions like Bandipora and Sonawari.
However, chairman of the Hurriyat's hardline faction, Syed Ali Shah Geelani said he was not surprised. "Elections are carried out in a manner of a military operation. In every constituency a dozen candidates popped up overnight. If India is a democracy, then we should have been allowed to run a boycott campaign. Why didn't they allow us to do so?" he asked.
Head of the hardliner all-women organisation, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Asiya Andrabi said a high voter turnout does not mean that people are against the separatist movement. She said there have been similar scenes during the last elections like. "(Then) there was the 2010 street uprising. I challenge New Delhi to allow me to express my viewpoint, I guarantee 90 percent of people will boycott these so-called elections," Andrabi said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) described the polls as a "mere eye wash". "Since 1950s Kashmiris have been witnessing this drama every now," said a JKLF spokesman.