THAT the first phase of staggered elections in the Occupied Kashmir, which commenced on Monday, witnessed a relatively higher turnout in the Hindu-dominated constituencies, comes as no surprise. Coercive methods employed by the security forces did the trick to send Kashmiri Muslims to the polling stations in some areas. But generally the pressure tactics failed to increase the turnout. People fought with security forces deployed in large numbers to prevent anti-polling protests. Television images and newspaper pictures show how brutal the occupation forces could turn out to be to make the sham elections a success. Not only did they lob teargas shells but they also beat the demonstrators mercilessly, as a result of which many of them, including some women, sustained serious injuries. APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under arrest along with many other Kashmiri leaders, rightly reminded New Delhi that it could not hold free and fair polls in the presence of a massive contingent of the security forces. The complete shutdown of business centres and government offices in the occupied territory should be clear enough a signal for the world at large that Kashmiris do not want to become part of any Indian-controlled elections. Those who are constantly being subjected to the worst kind of repression for the past many decades are not prepared to grant legitimacy to a government they do not accept as truly representative. India cannot continue to ignore for long the demand for holding a plebiscite in the Valley by projecting Kashmir as a mere administrative problem.