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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Jammu

Afzal Guru's Sopore witnesses lowest turnout at 1.02 pc
Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, May 07, 2014
First Published: 18:27 IST(7/5/2014)
Last Updated: 00:35 IST(8/5/2014)

Polling station No 89 in Jagir village, Sopore had maximum visitors on Wednesday, but none of them was among the listed 468 voters.
 
The visitors were mostly mediapersons or onlookers curious about the turnout in the native village of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
 
The booth was among many in Sopore where there was ‘zero turnout’ and this fact was greatly cherished by Afzal’s family. “This area used to vote, but I am glad nobody has voted this time. This is a way of honouring his death,”' Afzal's wife Tabasum Guru told Hindustan Times.
 
The story was same in the Seer village across the Jehlum and rest of the township as well.
 
 Sopore area witnessed a mere 1.02 percent voting. While most polling booths in the area registered zero turnout in the town, only two to three people had come out to exercise their right in other booths. Hindustan Times has a list of around 30 such booths with zero turnout in just Sopore town.

“As many as 11 booths in Girls Higher Secondary School, Sopore witnessed Zero voting--this inspite of no incident of stone pelting being reported here. Boys Higher Secondary School, a little away, had got five votes in 12 polling booths,” said a polling official on duty in the area.
 
Meanwhile, clashes between police and locals were reported from many places in North Kashmir's Sopore area and various parts of Old Town, Baramulla area. Security forces had to resort to teargas shelling to disperse the stone-throwing youth. The polling staff had to witness scenes of serious protests as they left their places of duty.
 
Sopore is considered to be bastion of separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani and has a strong separatist sentiment. This time, however, the area had strongly resented the fact that Guru was hanged out of turn and was not even allowed a last meeting with his family.
 
“While Sopore town has a history of low turnout, places like Dangarpora or Guripora and other villages in the outskirts not only went for complete boycott, but also witnessed clashes with security forces,” said Saleem Iqbal, a local mediaperson.
 
Family of the parliament attack accused had earlier slammed the political parties in the valley for using his name to invoke support in the coming Lok Sabha polls. In a run-up to the elections, Afzal Guru's execution seemed like a ‘jingle’ for the political parties. From the opposition People’s Democratic Party to the ruling alliance of National Conference and Congress, Afzal Guru’s hanging following rejection of his mercy plea by the President was called ‘injustice’ by all the mainstream parties.
 
While National Conference has been referring to the legal trial as ‘unfair and absolutely unjustified’, PDP has gone to the extent of calling it a ‘Vishwasghat’ (biggest betrayal).
 
National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah had exonerated both himself and his coalition partner Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that ‘both the union ministers got to know about the hanging from newspapers’. Abdullah had blamed the then home secretary for the execution.
 
JK Congress chief Saifuddin Soz, whose party carried out the ‘execution’ in the centre, had also remarked that ‘Guru was not given a fair trial’.
 
The youth in the area had vowed to mark May 7 as a ‘Black Day’. “Votes justify India's rule here. We will not allow that. Besides, what they did with Afzal Guru, proves that India does not consider us the citizens of this country. We can be sacrificed anytime for political gains,”' said a group of agitated youth.


 


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