Early in the morning, some people stood chatting outside the polling booth in the primary school building of Sanjarpur in Nizamabad assembly segment. As the clock struck seven, a large number of voters, including youth, women and senior citizens, initially jostled, but soon fell in line to cast their votes.
Sanjarpur bears the blot of being the native village of the youths killed in the Batla House encounter in 2008, in New Delhi.
“Leaders of various political parties have tried to cash in on the sentiments of the residents by raising the issue. It is nothing but melodrama to get our votes,” said Fahim Ahmed, the gram pradhan.
BSP candidate Kalamuddin, SP’s Alam Badi, BJP’s Ranjana Yadav, Congress’s Purnamashi Prajapati and Ulema Council’s Tahir Madani are locked in a fierce battle for the Nizamabad seat.
On Saturday afternoon, villagers gathered at the Sarai Mir/Rani ki Sarai crossing. The mood turned tense soon after the police told them to disperse and ordered the small tea shack to be shut.
“This is not the first time we are facing strong handedness of the police. Earlier, they raided our houses to nab the youths,” said Mohammad Islam.
The youths studying at Lucknow, Jaunpur and Varanasi have come to Sanjarpur to vote. “This is the medium with which we can express our resentment,” said Shahzad, a student of Purvanchal University.
“Our brothers killed in the encounter were innocent. Yet, the parties are leaving no stone unturned to revive the old wounds,” said Salim, a student of Lucknow University.
When reminded about the statements of Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Salman Khurshid, Shamim Akhtar, 50, burst out, “Who is stopping them from ordering an inquiry? We have been demanding that for last three years, but in vain.”
“We need better education and employment opportunities. We are casting our vote for development and better living facilities,” said another villager Asfaqullah.