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Srinagar's generation-Y remains alienated, disjointed from poll process

india Updated: Apr 06, 2014 19:04 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times
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Zubair Khan, 19, a student of a professional course, visits Srinagar's plush coffee shops frequently these days to discuss both career and politics with others of his age group. Khan is among thousands others in the city who have not applied for voter cards deliberately, despite the fact polls are round the corner.

Khan's friends have gone a step ahead and given in writing that they don't want voter identity cards, a fact confirmed by the electoral rolls department in the city.

"Whatever languages, either of prosperity or of separatism, the mainstream political parties drum up when polls near. But then nothing changes on the ground for us. Since 2002, the Valley's two mainstream parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), failed to deliver the idea of justice, leave aside helping ending Kashmir's problem that is taxing heavy on our generation," said Khan.

The Srinagar's generation-Y, in the age group of 19-20, remains the most disjointed, alienated and disillusioned lot. Brought up in the violent street agitations of 2008, 09 and 10, they remain highly dissociated with the idea of democracy as a matter of conviction and of realisation that they are conflict children.

"Nothing is more pressing, no water, no roads and no electricity, but an end to the conflict that is eating into the vitals of the society. Roads may come up but not disarrayed social fabric, no amount of power supply can end the uncertainty of being unresolved dispute," said Yasir Ahmad Qadri, another student from the old city's Habba Kadal assembly constituency. This constituency has lowest number of registered voters at 331 in the age group of 19-20.

The Election Commission of India (ECI), figures to paint a grim scene of Srinagar's generation-Y. Around 1.12 lakh young voters, half of the total teenage population of the state, are not enrolled as voters, predominantly in Srinagar constituency. Of 2.59 lakh eligible voters, only 1.48 lakh voters are enrolled, according to the election commission figures. In Srinagar's eight assembly segments, there are only 6,000 voters in the age group.

It's the same age group that actively participated in the street protests and bore the brunt of the iron hand of the state. Around 10,000 youths remain under constant vigil for their political ideologies and participation in stone-throwing protests in the Valley.

Kashmir's regional political parties, NC and PDP, are aware of the simmering anger among the young. "This age group since 1947 represented political idealism. This is the larvae and also a nagging challenge we cannot ignore. They are yet to pick up the idiom of democracy. They either offer themselves to enforce a boycott or turn up for bogus voting only," said PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar, who is also an MLC.

Ruling National Conference spokesman Junaid Azimuth Mattu seconds the fact that alienation is running deep among the youth in the city. "Our party and the chief minister have consistently said there is a sense of isolation and alienation among the youth. But we have suggested ways to address the same. The autonomy and the truth and reconciliation proposals are in fact acknowledgement of the alienation," said Mattu.

Both the parties have started roping in below 30 leaders in Srinagar. "We have structured students union. Our youth wing is not only active in politicking but reaching to otherwise skeptical youth," said Mattu.

Meanwhile, the election commission has also started a special drive to enroll the voters, in the age group, ahead of polls, which include reaching out to coaching centres in Jammu and Srinagar cities.