Jammu massacre casts shadow on J&K elections
15 July 2002
The Times of India
Jammu: The massacre of 28 villagers in Kasim Nagar by militants in Jammu has raised questions about the upcoming assembly elections in the state. Political representatives and experts said the deadly militant strike was likely to shake public confidence in India''s ability to deliver a violence-free election. ''In my view, the atmosphere is not right for holding elections, which is evident from the way in which terrorists mowed down so many people,'' said Ramakant Dube, J&K head of the VHP. ''There is no point in holding the elections unless the government can end militancy here. What you need is a strong and effective administration,'' Dube said. The BJP''s J&K branch, which called for a one-day strike in Jammu on Sunday to protest against lax security, said the militants were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in the run-up to the state polls. The government is hoping the polls will be embraced by majority of Kashmiris. ''Much will now depend on how the government moves and whether it is able to convince the main Kashmiri political groups to participate in the polls,'' said Ved Bhasin, editor of the Kashmir Times newspaper. ''I doubt whether there will be a large turn-out of voters in the Muslim-dominated areas of the state,'' he added, saying locals were likely to fear reprisals if they turn up to vote. He also said some of the militant groups seemed to have stepped up their attacks since the polls were announced.