iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times
Sonawari, May 07, 2014
The voting trends in Baramulla are showing a repeat of Srinagar. While a few areas are going with the separatist boycott call, two districts in constituency are reporting brisk voting.


Long queues of voters were seeing lining outside polling stations in the wee hours in the morning. Defying the separatist call people say, ‘ballot is the only way of changing their destiny’.

Just half an hour into voting, 100 votes were cast in six polling stations in Trigaam Shahdipora, while hundreds more were already in the queue. “Boycott won’t solve anything. Even if one vote is cast the candidate will be elected. So if a candidate’s election is likely to impact my life, why will I not have a say in who represents me,” said Zaheer Abbas at Gund Kahlil polling station.

Another friend of his, Imtiaz Ahmad, shares the sentiment. “I have voted for the second time. We have suffered a lot. If we want to change our lives, we need to exercise our right. I am voting for Kashmir,” he said.

Bandipora district in the Baramulla constituency is among the two districts where good voting percentage was witnessed. At 1 pm, Bandipora had recorded 20 percent turnout, second only to Kupwara where 41.26 exercised their ballot till 1 pm. Baramulla district, where incidents of stone pelting were witnessed, saw a dismal 14.69 percent voting.

The vote, however, seems split. While the elders in the hamlet stick to their traditional favourites, the National Conference, as the place is a stronghold of former speaker and senior minister in Omar Abdullah's cabinet, Akbar Lone, the youth are voting for change. “I am voting for PDP. We are only 18 kilometers from Srinagar but it seems we live in pre-historic times. There is no development: no roads, no hospital, no college. We have seen our representative five years back.  Does our Chief Minister even know this place,” said Zareena.

Standing next to her, a burqa clad women, who refused to reveal her name, pledged to vote in the coming assembly elections as well.

“I am voting for change and I know my vote matters,” she said.

The scenes are same in Kupwara, especially the border area. While Tangdar reported 52 percent voting till 2 pm, in Karnah Kandi area out of 1364, 1050 votes were cast by 1 pm. A polling station at Abutkul Miral Kralpora, only 45 votes out of 547 were yet to be cast.

“We came here early morning to cast our vote. We want to elect a candidate with a bright vision about people’s future. People are fed up with the kind of lives Kashmiris are forced to live. People are ignorant about government policies, schemes. The right candidate can act as a mediator between us and those at the helm,” said Sayeed Riyaz Ahmad, a resident of Mewar in Handwara.