First-time voters enthusiastic about empowerment

Greater Kashmir

‘We have voted for employment’

Srinagar, Nov 25: Defying the poll boycott call given by separatists, Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Kangan assembly segments witnessed large number of first-time voters who exercised their franchise today.
Enthusiastic voters who had become eligible recently to cast their votes came in large numbers and voted for their favorite candidates.
Mir Altaf, 19, who became eligible to cast his vote last year was eagerly waiting outside a polling booth in Watalbagh.
“I have read about voting is empowerment. This time I am exercising my right to vote for the candidate who can bring development and prosperity in our area which has been neglected over decades,” he said adding that he was looking forward for the day to exercise his franchise.
Altaf was not alone, his friends and batch-mates in college were waiting along him in a long queue to vote.
“We have realized that by boycotting polls, it makes easier for inefficient candidate to get elected which subsequently halts development of our village,” said Bashir Khan, Altaf’s friend.
There were many first-time voters who echoed similar views.
Similar scenes of young and first-time voters were witnessed outside Tulmulla polling booth, where most educated youth had come out in good numbers to cast their votes.
“We are voting for jobs, there are lakhs of unemployed youth in Kashmir who have no avenues for earning their livelihood. Our vote is for candidate who will create jobs and increase employment opportunities in Kashmir,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of Tulmulla in Ganderbal area.
They said: “Youth in our village are facing tremendous problems due to lack of job opportunities and underdevelopment. That is the main reason why we have defied the boycott calls and came out to vote.”
In Duderhama Ganderbal, Raashid Hamid was among the first voters in the polling booth established in Government Secondary School.
He said: “My vote is for change and I have come earlier in the morning to vote for my candidate.”
In Sonamarg area of Kangan, young voters said they have exercised their franchise “for candidate who would develop the tourism resort.”
“For six months due to weather conditions, Sonamarg remains out of bounds for tourists due to closure of roads, we want alternative tourism destinations to be developed in the area so that opportunities for earning livelihood increase,” said Javid Khan.