Kashmiris ushered in 2009 with prayers of peace and normalcy. The previous year came to a close with the conclusion of a highly successful elections to the state legislative assembly. Tens of thousands of voters braved the intense cold and threat from militants to cast their votes. Clearly, Kashmiris want to get on with their lives and wish to have a greater say in governance. The call from the seprataist forces to boycott the elections was heeded only in some hardline quarters of Srinagar and a few other towns. The previous year had also witnessed a prolonged and successful agitation against the state government's decision to allot land for the Amarnath shrine. The agitation hit businesses hard but in the end the government was forced to rescind its decision. This gave confidence to Kashmiris that their will would be ultimately prevail and that their interests could be secured within the existing political framework. The separatists, however, do not accept this framework and the struggle in Kashmir is likely to continue this year with more Pakistan trained militants expected in the Valley.
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