Posters by Lashker-e-Toiba and other militant outfits warning people against voting on Thursday failed to deter residents of Nawapachi, dubbed as a hotbed of foreign mercenaries, with people exercising their franchise in the hope of bringing "peace and development" to this remote area.
"I voted again today. I do not care about the militants' threat. My vote is for peace and construction of road communication to this area," 90-year-old Ashiya Begum told PTI. Set amid snow-covered mountains, the area is virtually cut off from the rest of the state.
Nawapachi is part of the Kishtwar district and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha constituency. "We are the unwanted citizens of this country. We have nearest road located at a distance of 45 Kms on Kashmir side and 80 km from Kishtwar side. Our children have not seen even a cycle or scooter. There is no power, no water supply, no telephone or mobile services," says Habeeb-ullah, a retired health department employee, standing in long queue at the polling station set up at middle school.
"The politicians make fake promises. We are where we were 60 years ago," says another voter. Despite the general derision for politicians, the residents have defied a poll boycott call by militants outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad which have infested the area for past over two decades.