The village of Bisada, situated 50km from national capital Delhi, wore an eventful look on Saturday as the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections began across 79 constituencies.
The tiny hamlet — which usually wears an eerie silence echoing the 2015 lynching of 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq— voted peacefully, authorities said.
The lynching, which was sparked by suspicions of cow slaughter on the night of September 15, contributed in a large way in changing the demographics of the village too.
Before Ikhlaq’s lynching, Bisada had 60 families. Over the last one-and-a-half-years, of the 60 families, 25 have relocated to different locations.
On Saturday, amid a tight security cover, four booths were set up inside Rana Sangram Singh Inter College in Bisada for 4,447 voters.
Authorities said there were 224 Muslim voters in Bisada of which just 18 cast their franchise in the village. All the 18 voters who cast their votes on Saturday were elderly.
The 18 Muslims of Bisada reached the polling station in two groups cast their votes. The men chose early morning to cast their franchise while women flocked in after 11 am to the polling station. Elaborate security arrangements had been put in place, with armed police personnel being deployed across the village.
None of the youngsters from the community came out to cast their votes to avoid any conflict at the polling centre.
“We have cast our votes to make sure everything remained normal. We couldn’t have stayed among the villagers peacefully if we didn’t do this,” said Haji Mohammad Tasneem, 71.
He added that none of the members of his community were approached by any candidates during the campaigning. The Muslim voters believe that their small number was insignificant to make any difference to any political party.
Sixty-six-year old Haji Abdul Sattar said the poor turnout among the community was cause of a reason. Sattar said youngsters were asked to stay indoors as the elders suspected that they might lose their cool in a charged atmosphere.
“For the last one week, tension has been gripping the village again. No one threatened us, but when we walk on streets, people do mutter under their breaths that the 14 accused who are in jail will be released soon. The youngsters from the Hindu community campaigned here for a party with the promise that those in jail for the lynching will be released. It does trigger a fear psychosis,” said Sattar.