In Shopian, people vote for development, restoration of 'lost dignity'

GK Photo

A sinuous road dotted by potholes along the banks of gurgling Rambiara stream leads to a quaint village of Vishroo Bala in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. In the village, a group of voters, chilled to the marrow, are one by one entering the metal gate of a government school to cast their ballot.

A few minutes later, Kaka Tedwa, a 90-year-old voter sitting precariously on a horse stops outside the polling station. With the help of his young nephew, he climbs down the stirrups and goes inside the polling booth and casts his vote.

“I voted for the development. Our village is devoid of well-nigh all basic amenities of life,” said Tedwa, a resident of the outlying Shalidar Maidan Mohalla in Kellar block.

His nephew Rafiq Ahmad said that the village largely inhabited by the marginalised Gujjar community had been struggling for the safe drinking water for the last many years. “I hope that our elected representative will address our grievances”, added Rafiq.

Sporting a scraggy beard and shivering with biting cold, Mohammad Yasin Paswal, another young voter of nearby Zamward village said that he covered a distance of at least 3 kms on foot to cast his vote. “The road leading to our village is not motorable. The candidate I am voting for has promised a metalled road,” he said.

The Kellar block, comprising Kellar -I and Kellet II, went to polling on Saturday during the first phase of elections. A total number of 81 candidates were in the fray for DDC and vacant Panchayat posts.

In the neighbouring Mashwara, Nadpora, Shadab Karewa and Manloo villages, the electorate despite the biting cold made a beeline for the polling stations since early morning.

Bundled up in woollens, 80-year-old Jana Begum at a polling station in Mashwara village said that she voted so that people could get some respite from the misgovernance.

“The area is beset with so many difficulties. Nobody listens to us. I voted for a change”, said Jana, who was escorted by her family.

In Nadpora, a group of electorate told Greater Kashmir that they cast their votes for the restoration of the dignity and identity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Every body is aware what happened on August 5, last year. We want protection to our land and jobs”, they said.

A poll official said that 42.5 percent polling were recorded in Kellar I and Kellar II, where two DDC seats were up for grabs.

He said that for four sarpanch seats a total number of 64.46 electorate cast their votes.

According to the official, a very high turnout of 80.69 percent was recorded for the vacant panch posts in three wards.

“There were a total number of 35 polling stations located at 28 places”, said the official.