Monday, November 17, 2008

Elections in Kashmir

Different strokes 

Naseer A Ganai/ Mudasir Ali

Hajan (Sonawari), Nov 17: ‘God save our house,” was written atop a house in Sadderkote Bala here and the person who had written the words is dead. Shahid-ul-Islam, a 2nd year student was killed in pro-freedom protest in Hajan during pro-freedom uprising of August-September, 2008.
His brother and friends said they wouldn’t cast their votes. “I lost my brother, my relatives have been booked. Why should I vote and for whom should I vote,” said Shahid’s brother.
Barely 50 meters away from the house people were waiting in queues outside polling booth to cast their votes. Shahid was in their memory but they had other concerns, too. “I feel for Shahid but then voting has nothing to do with the cause for which Shahid sacrificed his life,” said a polling agent of the National Conference. He hoped good voter turnout.
The presiding officer said 198 votes have been polled out of 787 votes. It was at 12:30 p.m. “We are here to vote for a capable candidate who would work for the people,” said an elderly person. Even a handicapped person and elderly woman had come to cast the vote. “I have voted,” said Zona, 50 without disclosing for which candidate had she cast the vote. “The candidate who would win is my leader,” Zona added.
Large number of youth had assembled almost outside every polling booth in Hajan and Sonawari. And outside the 74 Anderkote polling booth at 9:15 am, a group of youth said they were against holding of elections in the Jammu and Kashmir. The presiding officer said 50 votes have been polled out of 1001. There were some pro-freedom slogans outside the booth, too, but it had no impact on the voting.“Any person who has to cast vote would exercise his right,” said Ghulam Muhammad Khanday, 56. A young man countered him. “Youth are for boycott and old people don’t know anything about the whole exercise.”

The argument of youth prevailed, at least for some time. At Kusambagh Hakbara 65 votes had been polled out of 710 at 10:30 am and at booth number 22 F Safapora Sonawari at 10:50 a.m, 109 votes had been polled at 11:45 a.m.

As he day proceeded division between youth and the age had ended. Ironically the youth had joined the poll process. At Pushwari at 1:15 p.m, there was fight between the NC workers and the PDP activists. The youth were carrying long sticks to beat each other. The NC candidate Muhammad Akbar Lone and PDP candidate Yasir Reshi were at the booth where EVM machine was damaged by the workers.

Lone sought re-polling in the area as he alleged that Reshi led his workers to destroy the machine after seeing brisk polling in favour of NC. But PDP workers alleged that NC had polled 342 votes out of 763 at 1:15 p.m after “capturing” the booth. And when the media persons tried to see the damage, the DSP concerned, Harmeet Singh told them “Go to some other booth till we clear the mess.” Bilal Ahmad Lone, Akbar Lone’s son said that police resorted to lathi-charge and injured many NC workers.

Raki Asham polling booth was tense at 3 p.m. Police resorted to lathicharge against women who were accusing that they are being denied their right to cast vote. Police led by DSP Sanjay refused to allow media to shot the police lathicharge. “You people sensationalize everything,” he argued.
At Naidkai, people were casting votes. “Voting is for roads and development,” they said. In Nesbal the situation was not different. At 3:20 p.m 509 votes had been polled out of 626.
At 11 a.m in Baharabad, Muhammad Ramzan had reached outside the pooling booth early morning, wearing worn out traditional cloak, Pheran and shoes. Ramzan sat under a tree some 20 meters outside polling booth. And every eye stopped at him.
The aged Ramzan was the father of Bashir Ahmad, who fell to bullets fired by police and CRPF on a pro-freedom procession only a month ago. “He (Ramzan) has come to see if people would vote,” Bashir Ahmad (name changed) told a nearby youth. “People are aware of everything. They are witness to everything what happened,” responded Ramzan in a broken voice after a brief silence.
A large number of youth and some elderly persons had assembled at the place and where discussing the problems faced by Ramzan after his son was killed. “Ramzan lost his breadwinner in the uprising. He is yet to reap his crop. And now he has to earn for the widow of his sons and orphaned grandchild, only two and a half years ago,” said Ashraf.
Inside the pooling both at 11 am, the presiding officer said only 22 votes have been polled out of 743 votes. But as the day proceeded, atmosphere had also changed. At 1 p.m
Ramzan has left the place and the presiding officer said 121 votes have been polled. The number had gone up to 192 at 3:40 p.m.
Post a Comment