At Dooru, elderly voters vote for 'change'

A polling station established in a government higher secondary school in Dooru area of southern Anantnag district Tuesday had no long queues of voters, but it saw several elderly voters coming out from their homes, albeit in small groups, to cast their votes.

Ghulam Ahmed Shah, a local resident, said he has been voting since the time when Mir Qasim, a native of Dooru village and a Congress leader, was the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

“My first vote was for Mir Qasim and since then I have been a committed voter. I believe that staying away from polling is no strategy. A vote has the power to bring change,” said Shah, 72.

He said due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir, votes have either been ignored or didn’t get any attention.

“But today, I am sure our candidate will make New Delhi to pay dividends for the votes we cast today,” Shah said, showing his finger with an edible ink mark.

Shah said: “I want my candidate to knock on the doors of New Delhi about the need of addressing the political issue and other issues related to youth in Kashmir,” he said.

Another elderly voter, Muhammad Subhan Wani, 71, a resident of Arabal, said he has never missed to cast his vote ever since he turned 18.

“At times, we didn’t get anything out of votes, but yes sometimes the reasons for which we voted were taken care of. People in Kashmir are suffering and today’s vote is to see some sort of mitigation of our pain and anguish,” Wani said.

A group of elderly voters maintained that the “assault” on Article 35A and plans to scrap Article 370 made them to vote.

“Our responsibility was to vote. Now it’s the job of our candidate to protect our vote by standing in defense of J&K’s special status and hereditary state subject laws,” they said.

An elderly man, who was cornered outside the polling station by a group of young boys, said: “My vote is for the resolution of (Kashmir) issue. Our candidate has to persuade New Delhi on resolving the Kashmir issue, today or tomorrow.”

Several youngsters, outside the polling station, however, termed the polls as a “futile exercise”, saying “nothing happens after voting, it’s better to stay away”.

Meanwhile, jubilant voters added colour to the poll festivity in Ashmuqam area of southern Anantnag district, which went to polls in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections on Tuesday.

There were no long queues, but the frequent arrival of voters kept a polling station here— housing three polling booths—abuzz throughout the day. Men, women and first-time voters flocked the polling booths to exercise their franchise.

Wearing a smile on his face, Ghulam Rasool Darzi, 70, a resident of Aishmuqam, said: “I voted for peace in Kashmir and also for jobs to my four sons as promised to me by one of the candidates in poll fray”.

“I am hopeful that this time my vote won’t go in vain. I have easy access to the house of the candidate in whose favour I voted today, and tomorrow I can ask him to give the promised jobs to my sons,” he said, but hastened to add: “(But) that’s only possible when peace prevails in Kashmir. My vote is first for peace and then for jobs for my sons, who are all well-educated.”

In one of the two booths established in a school, 255 votes were polled out of 824, while in another, 154 votes were cast out of 667, by early afternoon.

A burqa-clad woman also came to vote along with her two daughters.

“I have been moving from pillar to post for jobs to my daughters who have completed their graduation. This time I hope my vote will at least bring jobs for them. Today, they have also come for the first time to vote, let’s see what happens,” she said.

One of her daughters, soon after casting her vote, said if her vote goes in vain and yields no result, “I will never vote again”.

Many enthusiastic first-time voters looked visibly annoyed as their names didn’t figure in the voters’ list.

“This is complete mismanagement. Why our names don’t figure in the list,” asked Adil Rashid, a 19-year-old youth.