Rural voters score high in Kashmir

Published on Apr 27, 2004 03:14 AM IST

Despite the fear of militant attacks, a low-to-moderate voter turnout was recorded in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency on Monday.

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HT Image
PTI | ByMajid Jahangir, Budgam-srinagar

Despite the fear of militant attacks, a low-to-moderate voter turnout was recorded in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency on Monday.

While urban assembly segments of Srinagar heeded the separatist poll boycott call completely, rural pockets witnessed a fairly good turnout.

There was great enthusiasm among voters in almost all assembly segments of Budgam. A good number of people (many women) were seen in long queues at Chrar-e-Sharief, Chadoora, Khansahib and Budgam.

The eagerness to vote in Chadoora was evident at a polling booth in Panzan that militants attacked on Sunday night. "We don't feel frightened by blasts and I will vote for a competent man in Parliament who can raise our issues," said one voter.

Similar scenes were evident at the shrine town of Chrar where hundreds of youngsters lined up to vote. Shia-dominated Budgam also witnessed a good turnout. But not many voters turned up at Beerwah. There were also some reports of coercion.

In Srinagar, the scene was completely different. Many polling booths registered no votes even at 3 pm. Eleven votes were cast out of 4,000 votes till 1 pm at a Rawalpora booth. At Lal Chowk, 72 voters had given their verdict and more than 1,500 stayed out. Srinagar residents either confined themselves indoors or took to cricket.

The suburbs of Ganderbal and Kangan were different. Like Budgam, the segments witnessed a high voter turnout. The only violent incident took place in Budgam. A woman was wounded at a polling booth in Ichigam after militants tossed  a grenade.

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Fooled you!

Kashmiris in Ichigam devised an ingenious way of pleasing both militants and political parties.

After voting, many youth started shouting anti-election and pro-freedom slogans outside the polling booth. "This is how we keep both sides happy," a youth said.

PTI

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