Bundled up in woollens, a group of voters at a polling station in south Kashmir’s Shopian town believe that their votes could at least help in renovating the damaged drains and lanes of the town.
“The town faces a host of issues on the developmental front. We hope that our elected representatives will at least resolve some of them,” said a voter.
A scant percentage of voters on Friday showed up at polling stations in the town to cast their ballots for the vacant seats of Municipal Council Shopian (MCS).
A total number of nine councillor seats went to polls. According to a poll official, a voter turnout of 3.2 percent was recorded. “The voting percentage tumbled due to the less or at least no campaigning by the contestants in the town,” said another voter.
Apart from the municipal seats, polls for two Block Development Council (BDC) constituencies–Shopian I and Shopian II– and vacant Panchayat posts were also held.
The constituencies, said another official, saw a poll percentage of 27.73 percent.
Frozen to the bone, the people in outlying Divpora village, inhabited by the Gujjar community, could be seen standing in sinuous queues since morning outside the polling stations to cast their votes.
The voters said that the lack of basic amenities in the area spurred them to vote in these elections. “The road in our area is dotted with chuckholes. It has not been repaired since long. We are sure that the representative we elect will address the issue,” said Choudary Abdul Aziz, a young voter.
He added that acute paucity of piped water in the area was another major issue for which the people voted for.
Farooq Ahmad, a first time voter from the area, told Greater Kashmir that he voted so that their representative would address the issues faced by their community. “It was a heavenly feeling to vote for the first time”, he added.
In Heerpora and Bohrihalan villages, the voters in spite of the biting cold thronged the polling stations to exercise their franchise.
Similarly, in Balpora village, voters made a beeline for polling stations early in the morning to cast their votes.
In nearby Kulgam district, Kund block went to polls during the third leg of BDC polls. The block recorded a high voter turnout with around 64.45 percent voters exercised their franchise by 1.50 p.m.
The area had hogged the headlines in 2005, then part of Anantnag district, when many residential houses in Waltengoo, an outlying village of the block, were swept away by a monstrous avalanche.
During the polls, the voters largely emphasised on the development of the area. “We are voting for the overall development of the area. We need better roads and seamless electricity”, said a woman voter, who declined to be named, in Waltengoo.
In Kraloo village, people lined up before the polling booths as soon as the voting began.
“We are voting to send out a message that the people of J&K are united on the important issue of safeguarding our identity”, said Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh, a voter.
In nearby Vriel village, the voters continued to flock the polling stations till the voting ended. “Electricity vanishes from the area during the frosty winters. We hope our representative will improve the power scenarios in the area,” said a voter.