Putting the horror of this year’s September 19 encounter behind them, residents of Batla house came out in hordes to exercise their democratic right on Friday.
Unlike other places, a majority of the polling stations in the Okhla assembly constituency, under which Batla House falls, saw a deluge of voters since 8 am.
In fact, at some of the polling stations the voter turnout had already crossed 20 per cent by 11 am.
“The huge turnout is a proof that people here are desperate for a change. They have put behind the fear psychosis of the Batla house encounter behind them,” said Ehteshamuddin, 26, a software developer and a resident of M block, Batla House.
It is going to be an interesting contest in Batla House this time around. “With 14 of the 19 candidates from Okhla seat being Muslims, the Muslim vote in the area is going to see a heavy polarisation,” said Ashraf Ali, another resident of Batla House.
With the anti-incumbency factor weighing heavily against sitting Congress MLA Parvez Hashmi, the electoral prospects of both RJD’s Asif Mohammed Khan and BSP’s Brahm Kumar Bidhuri have improved.
Bidhuri is in a strong position in the slum-dominated areas of Sarita Vihar and Ali village.
“Hashmi has been the MLA for the last 15 years and just look at the condition of the roads and sewer lines here. Every time we want to get the drains cleaned, we spend money from our own pockets. What is the use of such an MLA?” said Hena Parveen, a resident of H block, Batla House.
Residents are also aggrieved that in the aftermath of the controversial Batla House encounter, when the entire area was in the grip of a wave of panic, the sitting MLA hardly visited them to restore their confidence.
“It was Asif Mohammed Khan from RJD who stood with us throughout that traumatic time,” said Zaida Bi, a resident of H block, Batla House.