The public execution of J&K law minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone in broad daylight has sent a chilling message across the Valley. Both the candidates and people stand forewarned that taking part in the elections—for which the electorate was displaying an unexpected enthusiasm—would only earn them the militants' ire.
The upturn in violence means that people will be too scared to vote. Moreover, the posters being put up by the militants since September 11 warn the electorate: "Jo vote dalega, woh goli khayega."
After Pervez Musharraf's open denunciation of the J&K poll process on August 14, increase in violence in the Valley was only a matter of time. It's just that people were keeping their fingers crossed that US pressure would somehow lead to the militants being reined in. This also explains the unexpected groundswell of popular support for the elections, which was expected to pick up in the second and third phase.
Lolab in Kupwara district, the constituency from where Lone was contesting, had in fact become a test case for the entire Valley. Lone was...