As all the 1,615 polling stations were declared hypersensitive in Anantnag parliamentary constituency, braving militant threats and separatists calls for boycott, Noorabad's Damhal Hanjipora wore a festive look with a difference. Here, women outnumbered men when it came to cast votes at polling booths.
Women were seen jostling with each other to form multiple queues to be the first to cast votes. "We vote because it will ensure better rozgar (livelihood)," said Zeenat Jan, a voter at Damhal Hanjipora.
At the polling station, 256 votes were cast out of 720 by noon. While women polled 154, men lagged behind at 113 votes.
Several women were carrying children on their backs and also a new message on why not to waste the vote. "We are told wasting a vote is gunaah (sin). Holding back a vote is a sinful act," said Shakeela Jan, a voter. "Vote matters. It changed my life when I decided to cast vote last time. I am hopeful it will pay this time too," she added.
Kashmir assembly has only four women faces out of 87 members. In south Kashmir, many women supporters looked up to PDP's parliament candidate Mehbooba Mufti and NC's Noorabad representative Sakina Yatoo as role models. Anantnag constituency, which has around 13 lakh electorates, has around six lakh women voters.
Women queue up outside a polling booth at Damhal Hanjipora at Kulgam district.