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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Youth power missing as women, elderly line up at polling booths

Villagers across Dakha belt say youngsters see no future here and prefer settling abroad

chandigarh Updated: Oct 21, 2019 22:49 IST
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Voters show their inked fingers at a village in Dakha on Monday.
Voters show their inked fingers at a village in Dakha on Monday.(HT PHOTO)
         

Even as senior citizens and women turned up in large numbers to vote at the polling booths across the Dakha belt, youngsters were difficult to locate.

The poor turnout of young voters indicated large-scale migration to the US, Canada and Australia from this assembly segment, which was duly confirmed by several sarpanches and elderly, who confessed that they were spending their sunset years in loneliness with their children settled abroad.

Across the polling booths in Chowkimaan village, senior citizens could be seen in abundance.

Waiting in queues, the excitement to cast their vote was evident on their faces. Equally enthusiastic were women who came all decked up to exercise their franchise.

However, young voters, especially men, were limited to a select few and at most of the booths were absent altogether.

“They have flown to Canada and the US,” said Harminder Singh, sarpanch of Chowkimaan.

“The elderly here are spending their days in loneliness as youngsters have gone to study abroad with dreams of settling there,” he added.

By 11am in this village, 353 of the total 1,057 votes had already been polled. “At least 50 new voters have been registered here recently. However, most of them do not see any future here. As parents, we are also apprehensive that they might get hooked to drugs, so we are happy to see them settled abroad,” said Satnam Singh, a 70-year-old farmer.

Similar was the story of other villages where the number of youth at polling booths was negligible. As per residents, the turnout of young voters there has witnessed a drastic dip over last years.

Even at Pandori village, which has 1,200 registered voters, the number of youngsters turning up to vote was scant. Pandori sarpanch Rulda Singh said there was a rat race among the youth to settle abroad and farmers were willing to sell their property and fields to secure a bright future for their children.