Looking for a change on the ground is what prompted Ashiq Hussain to cast his debut vote in the Bakhipora area of Rafiabad on Saturday. Hussain believes the District Development Election (DDC) is an election for a real change.
“We have enormous issues which need redressal,” said Hussain. “Most of the candidates in fray this time are well educated and connected to the ground realities. Some of them are participating in the election for the first time and their enthusiasm to do good for the society is high,” said Ashiq, as he waited for his turn to cast vote.
Polling booths in Rafiabad area of Baramulla district witnessed low to moderate turnout on Saturday. At boys Higher Secondary School Dangiwacha, the authorities had set up three polling booths.
At polling booth 13, which has 663 total number of registered voters, 83 votes were polled by 12.12 pm. Similarly, at polling booth no. 14, out of a total 950 votes, votes polled till around 12.30 pm was 88. In polling booth 15, out of total 424 registered voters, 120 votes were polled till 12.45 pm.
Firdous Ahmad, a young and first time voter in Dangiwacha, said that the sole purpose of casting his vote is to ensure that their family fruit business will no more suffer in the wake of fake pesticides.
“Since Rafiabad is an apple rich area, the livelihood of people here is dependent on fruit business. The use of spurious pesticides has ruined the fruit industry. Since the candidate I opted to vote for has a background of fruit business, therefore I took pledge from her once elected she will strive for the betterment of the fruit industry for which an end to spurious pesticides is important,” he said.
Scores of other voters showed their strong resentment over the lack of development in their respective areas. They said Rafiabad area has been never developed as per its potential and claim their vote this time will be for a candidate who has potential to work for the society.
“Besides being an apple rich area, the Rafiabad area has huge potential for tourism. However, successive regimes have ignored us till date. The candidates in fray had promised us to look for new avenues for the development of the area. Since they are young and new faces, we hope they will deliver,” wishes Ghulam Muhammad, a resident of Dangiwacha.
The Rafiabad DDC seat is reserved for women. There are seven female candidates in fray. There are 73186 registered voters, out of which 37488 are male while 35698 are female voters.
There were several politically cautious voters too who cast their votes on Saturday in Rafiabad. Most of them were of the opinion that in the changing political scenario of Jammu and Kashmir, it is important to keep communal forces at bay.
“The DDC elections will set a new benchmark for the development and prosperity of the villages which had been ignored by the successive regimes. Besides, it will set a new political battle in motion which will be solely aimed to protect our political rights,” said Muhammad Sharief, a Government employee.