For senior citizen, Muhammad Rajab Khan, casting a vote has been a regular feature of his life whenever the Lok Sabha or Assembly polls were held in Kashmir. But this time around, he said he decided to vote “with a different mindset”.
“I voted again today, but with a different mindset. I voted with the hope that the person who would go to Parliament tomorrow at least speaks once in a loud tone that Kashmir issue needs to be resolved for permanent peace in the region,” said Khan, a retired government employee, who cast his vote at Pandrethan area of Srinagar.
A small group of youth, outside a government school-turned-polling station at Pandrethan area, said it was “time to change sides as all those who were chosen in the past Lok Sabha polls failed to speak about Kashmir in the Parliament”.
“We need a person who can at least pitch for a sustained dialogue on Kashmir in the Parliament. Today, we have voted for a change,” they said, showing ink marks on their fingers.
“Kashmir needs a change. A person who can at least raise voice in favour of Kashmir can bring the change. There is hardly any evidence of any Srinagar Parliamentarian who has been vocal about Kashmir in the Lok Sabha previously.”
One of the youngsters said: “Kashmir has started to witness winds of change and we need to go where this wind would take us”.
At the polling station, no serpentine queues were witnessed as the attendance of voters was thin but those who voted were high in spirits.
“Every vote counts and today we are hopeful that our votes will make a difference that can be felt by the people,” said middle-aged Ali Muhammad of Athwajan area of Srinagar.
Ali said he has been voting since he turned 18.
“I am almost 65-year-old and I have been voting in favour of a particular party but today, I changed my mind to see a change. It is high time we ensure a change. It’s the people who can bring change through their vote and I tried my bit,” he said, wearing a smile on his face.
At various polling stations at Pantha Chowk and Athwajan areas, the number of voters compared to last Lok Sabha polls held in 2014, was two times less. Not more than 50 votes were polled in three polling stations at Pantha Chowk while only 60 votes were polled at two polling stations at Athwajan area.
“Votes are sacred and need to be utilised in a proper way. We didn’t get any benefit from the people in whose favour we voted in the previous elections. Today, we are voting for a new face who can at least speak on behalf of us in Delhi,” said Reyaz Ahmed, a post-graduate student.