Centenarian, octogenarian cast vote in Bandipora

On Tuesday, Ganastan and Nowgam constituencies in Sumbal division of north Kashmir’s Bandipora wore a festival-like look. Despite bone-chilling cold and dense fog, people here gathered in queues half an hour before polling started.

Eleven DDC candidates from Ganastan and 5 from Nowgam constituencies were in the fray apart from 11 candidates for Sarpanchs and 36 for Panchs.

The scene inside the Government School Ganastan which had three polling booths did not change even when polling neared an end while Pheran-clad men and women of all the age groups stood in long queues waiting to exercise their franchise.

With polling agents, villagers, security personnel and party workers standing in and around the polling station, a centenarian woman, donning a bright embroidered traditional Pheran supported by her two daughters took small steps to walk inside the booth.

“I am 100-years-old. I have cast votes many a times in the past too,” Aasha Begum said in her weak and brittle voice.

Her daughter Dilshada said Begum struggled to walk due to Ruhemotoid Arthritis yet came out to vote.

In another polling booth in Dangerpora village on the Srinagar-Bandipora road, the voters continued to make a beeline while the security personnel kept beating the chill by burning Chinar leaves.

In a little while, an octogenarian woman with hunch back, supported by her granddaughter, Shahzada, 25, walked in to cast her vote.

For the octogenarian, Fatima Begum, the countless votes since Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad’s rule had been of no avail.

“I have cast votes many times and am nearing 90 years,” Begum said. “I will still keep voting and when I am dead my vote will remain witness for how I strived in life.”

Fatima has three daughters, who are all married, and two disabled sons Mushtaq and Maqbool while her husband died 30 years ago.

“One of my sons is blind. The other one has polio and he has been jobless since lockdown was imposed. He was a carpet weaver,” Begum said.

In another village of Trigam, 80-year-old Khaliq Ahmad Bhat voted to see peace in Kashmir.

In Sumbal’s Nowgam constituency which was reserved for women, a large number of vendors had lined up outside the polling booths to sell their merchandise to the voters.

The two constituencies combined recorded 69.67 percent voter turnout with 69.47 percent in Nowgam and 69.88 percent in Ganastan constituency.

In Nowgam, 6630 votes including 3248 by women and 3382 by men were cast while in Ganastan 6583 votes including 3578 by men and 3005 by women were cast out of the total 18,965 votes.