Sopore, Pattan leave boycotts behind for ballot breakthrough - Hindustan Times
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Sopore, Pattan leave boycotts behind for ballot breakthrough

ByMir Ehsan, Ashiq Hussain, Baramulla/pattan
May 21, 2024 05:04 AM IST

Sopore segment witnessed 44.57% till 5 pm against the dismal 4% in 2019, while Pattan’s numbers also went up from 33% last time to 52.9%

The rural towns of Baramulla, Sopore and Pattan, which have traditionally stayed away from polling in the last three decades amid boycott calls, saw a spike in voting as a large number of people stepped out of their homes on Monday.

Voters stand in queue to outside a polling booth for Baramulla Lok Sabha seat. (Waseem Andrabi /HT)
Voters stand in queue to outside a polling booth for Baramulla Lok Sabha seat. (Waseem Andrabi /HT)

The parliamentary constituency’s Baramulla assembly segment recorded 54.57% voting till 5 pm, up from the 16% recorded in 2019.

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Sopore segment witnessed 44.57% till 5 pm against the dismal 4% in 2019. Pattan’s numbers also went up from 33% last time to 52.9%.

At Rangwar polling station, 50% polling was recorded till noon. The voters also responded positively in the Old City of Baramulla, which saw political parties campaign for the first time in three decades.

At Government School Stadium Colony Azadgand, half of the 1,044 votes had been polled. “Last time, due to the fear some 10 odd people had exercised their franchise. Today, voters came in early hours to cast their votes,” said Mohammad Yusuf, a polling agent of a political party.

“It’s my first vote in three decades as I have realised that the boycott wasn’t fruitful and we should vote to get our rights. We need employment, development and safety of our land and jobs,” he said while coming out from the polling station after casting vote with his wife.

At Sopore Degree College, where five polling stations were established, 1,400 of the 4,200 voters had come in by 4 pm.

“We are losing all our securities one after another. I am hopeful we will get our rights back,” said Amir Ahmad Malik as he handed voter slips to a group of young voters. Another voter, Irshad Ahmad, said, “I was eligible for voting in the mid-90s but only got the chance to vote in 2024 as there isn’t a call for boycott and the atmosphere is free from fear.”

At a polling booth established in Veterinary Hospital, Pattan, which has seen low turnout ever since militancy broke out in the region, 280 of the 1,215 people had cast their votes in the first four hours.

Waiting in line was Hilal Ahmad Wani, 50, who had last voted in the 1987 assembly election, said “The situation has changed in Kashmir after 2019. Many people who would boycott have come out. My “jazbaat (emotions)” are the same. We need to choose a leader who talks sense in the Parliament on our behalf.”

“There was militancy and fear. Now, there is no such thing,” 46-year-old businessman Showkat Ahmad said, adding, “We are voting as no one in this government listens to us. The last five years have been terrible for us.”

Shahida, a 45-year-old home maker from Pattan, was also waiting for her turn to vote at a booth. Hopeful of her vote paving the way for a better future, she said, “Our youth are in jail. Our power bills have gone up. We no longer get enough rice from ration depots. Things need to change.”

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