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Majority of Kashmiris want to remain Indian citizens: Poll

Majority of Kashmiris want to remain Indian citizens: Poll

Publication: Sify News
Date: May 31, 2002

As many as 61 percent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir want to remain Indian citizens because they feel they would be thus be politically and economically more secure, while only six percent want to be Pakistani citizens, according to a recent opinion poll.

A large number of them (33 percent) are indecisive. The poll was conducted by FACTS Worldwide, MORI's affiliate company in India.

Majority of the people are also of the opinion that foreign militants are damaging the 'Kashmir cause' and they do not want Kashmir to be divided on the lines of religion and ethnicity.

A whopping majority of 86 percent want an end to militancy and infiltration of militants across the Line of Control (LoC). Two thirds of the population believe that Pakistan's involvement in the region for the last 10 years has been bad.

The poll also reveals that 80 percent of the people want displaced Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes in safety. This, they feel, will help bring about peace.

People also believe that, "The unique cultural identity of Jammu and Kashmir - 'Kashmiryat' - should be preserved in any long-term solution."

Half or more of the population believe that a "New political party is needed to bring about a permanent solution in Kashmir."

The poll conducted at the end of April reveals an overwhelming majority of Kashmiris oppose India and Pakistan going to war to find a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue.

They believe the proper way to bring about peace in the region is through democratic elections, ending violence, and economic development.

As many as 93 percent believe that peace in Jammu and Kashmir can be established through economic development while 86 percent advocate holding free and fair elections and 87 percent favour direct talks between the Indian Government and the people of Kashmir.

Views are, however, split on the issue of granting more autonomy to Kashmir. Overall 55 percent support India and Pakistan granting control as much autonomy as they can to the parts of Kashmir under their control and enable them to govern their own affairs. While the majority in Srinagar and Leh supports this policy, the majority in Jammu opposes it.

Views about the role and impact of the Indian security forces are also varied. In Srinagar and Leh, at least nine out of 10 people believe security forces scaling down their operations in Jammu and Kashmir would help bring peace, whereas in Jammu the opinions are reversed.

Perceptions also vary regarding the behaviour of the Indian security forces.

"Nobody interviewed in Leh or Jammu believes that human rights violations by Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are widespread, whereas in Srinagar 64 percent of the population think they are widespread," claims the poll.

Even on the matter of human rights violations by militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir, 96 percent of those in Jammu believe such violations are widespread whereas only two percent of those in Srinagar believe they are widespread (although 33 percent believe they are 'occasional').

The poll was conducted between April 20 and 28, 2002. In total, 850 face-to-face interviews were conducted with adults aged 16 and above across 55 localities within Jammu and Kashmir.

This comprised 22 localities in Jammu city, 20 in Srinagar city and 6 in Leh (urban areas) as well as in 3 villages around Jammu and 4 villages around Srinagar (rural areas).

Quotas of subjects for the interview were selected by gender, religion (assessed by observation) and locality, according to the known population profile of the region. A random selection procedure was used to select individual respondents.


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