Two per cent turnout in Srinagar repoll, zero in 20 booths: ‘I voted but govt must understand the anger’

Srinagar repoll: J-K’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shantmanu said that only 709 votes were polled in the booths that went for re-poll.

Written by Bashaarat Masood , Nirupama Subramanian | Budgam | Updated: April 14, 2017 8:16 am
Srinagar, Srinagar repoll, Srinagar bypoll, Srinagar polling, Budgam elections, Srinagar repoll, Srinagar violence, Budgam violence, Srinagar voter turnout, Srinagar clashes, stone pelting Srinagar, Budgam stone pelting, Budgam violence, India news, Indian Express Srinagar repoll: Outside a polling station in Budgam Thursday. (Express photo: Shuaib Masoodi)

Just two per cent of about 35,000 voters turned out in Thursday’s repoll in 38 polling stations in this district of Srinagar parliamentary constituency. At 20 booths, not a single vote was polled. J-K’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shantmanu said that only 709 votes were polled in the booths that went for re-poll. That even this number turned out after the violence on April 9, the day of the parliamentary bypoll, is what is surprising. For, Budgam saw the most number of incidents on Sunday, and of the eight deaths, seven took place in confrontations between stone-pelters and security forces in this district.

One reason for the violence was that there were significant pockets of high voting in the district and there were significant numbers of people determined to prevent this. Despite the violence, most of the seven per cent turnout on Sunday was in Budgam.

This time, there was none of Sunday’s violence but the turnout was lower, making those who did cast their vote stand out.

Polling station Dooniwari in Chadoora Assembly segment polled 256 votes out of 1246, and in Sippora in Birwah Assembly segment, 242 out of 1108 voters turned out. Still, the boycott overwhelmed everything else and those who arrived at polling stations were either die-hard party activists, relatives, friends or party polling agents.

Those who voted gave different reasons for turning out: to express anger against the PDP-BJP government; to bring development to their area; to have their voice heard in Parliament; or in plain defiance of those who wanted a boycott.

In Pirpora polling booth in Birwah, by 9.45 am, just seven of the 145 voters had cast their vote when Hilal Dar, 26, and his mother Raja arrived. Raja nervously clutched her voting slip and after her vote, she could barely speak. “I’m afraid to go back to the village, I’m a heart patient, I feel scared to return to my own home,” she said.

Hilal told his mother to be brave. Though he wanted to stay on at the polling station, he offered to escort her back to the village. “I got my slip so I came to vote. So what if there’s a boycott. I’m not in the habit of doing everything the village does,” he said.

This polling station was on top of a hill. On Sunday, a mob had entered and destroyed the EVM machine around noon. On Thursday, it had layered security, with one company of J&K police and two of CRPF guarding the booth, the area around and the road leading to it.

Eventually, Hilal and his mother took a back route down the hill to return home so that they would not encounter anyone from the village.

“The village is really divided on this,” said 71-year-old Ghulam Ahmed Dar, as he waited below the hill for a ride. He had not voted yet. “I will decide later. I have till 4 pm,” he said.

In Kanihama polling booth, Farokh Ahmed, 44, a shawl-weaver, came to vote at 2.40 pm. He asked not to be photographed for this interview. “I am not afraid of my neighbours but in these parts, a man has to take several other factors into consideration,” he said.

But he is well known in the area as close to the former PDP MLA from the area, Mohammed Shafi. “I came to vote so that this area can get some development. When we elect someone, he brings in some money, and when the money comes, then some benefits come, like roads, and water and electricity”. He said none of those benefits have come. “But I continue to keep faith in the system because this is all that we have. I still believe something good will come out of it.”

Farokh said people had not boycotted without reason: they were angry and the government must listen to them. “From sentry to mantri, all are the same, that’s why people are so enraged. They have nothing, there is unemployment, they have nothing to do. Government must do something for the unemployed. “

In Sippora, with banners of Ayatollah Khomeini strung up at various places, 242 voters turned out from a total of 1108.

“I voted for development, to elect a candidate who will be our voice in the Parliament of Hindustan. He will get our demands met,” said Ghulam Moideen, in his late 60s, who described himself as a lifelong National Conference supporter. Omar Abdullah won the Birwah Assembly seat narrowly in the 2014 election and the Shia vote here is divided evenly between NC and PDP in the segment. In this village, Farooq Abdullah has many supporters.

His neighbour Riyaz Ahmed, 36, says he voted today despite stone-pelting at his house but the government “has to understand that there are legitimate reasons why most people are boycotting this election.”

“There is so much unemployment, so much bloodshed and maara-maari. What this boycott means is that the government in Delhi must think about Kashmir. I don’t think of myself as a Shia, I am a Kashmiri and a Muslim. India should think of Kashmiris as having blood of the same colour as everyone else in the country. My blood is not yellow or orange, it’s the same red colour as everyone else’s. You can say that my vote is an expression of anger against the present government. They have completely failed. They give bullets and pellets even when people ask for their rights,” he said. “A government should be reasonable. We are requesting that they begin talks with our neighbouring country. I have a two-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. I want a good future for them. Kisi bhi tareh, yeh masla hal ho jaaye. (Let the problem be solved one way or the other)”

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First Published on: April 14, 2017 5:24 am
  1. I
    Indian
    Apr 14, 2017 at 10:40 pm
    They are apparently asking for their rights and want us to talk with our duplicitous neighbors for that! And what has stan to do with their rights? As far as I understand, demand for merging with stan is not 'right', right?
    Reply
    1. G
      goldenfig
      Apr 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm
      In many states of India the ministers, MPs and legislators are setting a bad example if ignoring the views of the people because they are interested in am ing wealth ill gotten at any cost. The curse of modern civilization is having its toll leading to pralaya in the world.
      Reply
      1. S
        SS Nair
        Apr 14, 2017 at 10:04 am
        Give rights to people from other part of the country to settle in J&K. We will show them how it works in democracy. Basically its not their problem, the 'Holy Book' doesn't teach democracy and they don't ready any other book either.
        Reply
        1. I
          imtiyaz
          Apr 14, 2017 at 10:52 am
          what will you do , civilians when the men in uniform cant do anything....look at the plight of ordinary and common indians in other parts of mainland india ... how ppl are committing suicides ..the farmers.... the females are unsafe on the roads ...the little ones are pre upon ...being raped....is that what you wan to teach about democracy...... be realistic and use ur education for good not for gossip and mongering ...you should commenting upon anything when you are aware of the facts not just on mere hearsay....the news channels are completely giving wrong information.....n you believe them..... just 2 ,,,yet you feel everything is normal.....you have got brilliant brains...so be logical n rationale......... its very very very easy to comment from the comfort zones.......
          Reply
          1. M
            Mohammad Dar
            Apr 14, 2017 at 10:55 am
            You must be a hindu fraudster or a ignorant in Islam, Democracy in truth is ordained by teachings of Islam, and first to teach democracy to humanity, unlike hindu fraudsters of hinduism racism by faith, pretending to be democrats. Democracy without truth is not a democracy, but hindrance to truth hinduism demagoguery, foundation of hinduism racism, as a faith.
            Reply
            1. N
              Namdev Chakrapani
              Apr 14, 2017 at 7:59 pm
              i completely endorse the views.if implemented,hindus will become majority in the valley which will become paradise.terrorists need not go to that paradise described in the holy book.
              Reply
            2. G
              George Cruz
              Apr 14, 2017 at 8:48 am
              When the Islamic Caliphate called stan was carved out of greater India, Jinnah said "Any Muslims from India who don't want to live with Hindus, Any Muslims who prefer theocracy for democracy, are always welcome to stan, a land of the pure and brave". So why are the Muslims in Kashmir Valley who raise stan flags, raise anti-India slogans take Jinnah's invitation and emigrate to stan??????
              Reply
              1. M
                Mohammad Dar
                Apr 14, 2017 at 10:57 am
                Because Kashmir was never part of hindu filthy swamp of hinduism, racism hindrastan called india, but stan.
                Reply
                1. G
                  George Cruz
                  Apr 14, 2017 at 11:57 am
                  The truth is that there was no visible presence of evil Islam in the Indian subcontinent until the barbaric Turkish invasion in 1100's. There was greater India with individual Hindu kingdoms worshipping various forms of Hindu gods,the rich Hindu culture which is inclusive of everyone. You are a typical bad Muslim in Kashmir who hates Hindus and you need to be deported to stan. The truth is that, today NO democratic countries around the globe like Muslim refugees, their way of life with full of terror and hate towards other religions.
                  1. M
                    Mohammad Dar
                    Apr 14, 2017 at 12:19 pm
                    Typical hinduism fabrication of followers of hind crime of hinduism, immorality by faith, Islam was accepted by the Muslims of 8th century without any interference of any army in the sub continent, , to spit on hind crime of hinduism immorality, called religion, not of the natives of the land, but imposed by hindus criminals of the Egypt and Persia by force. Every human should reject hind crime of hinduism racism, by faith, because, it is not a faith, but a crime against humanity, wrapped in a hindu filthy wrapper , called religion.
                2. Z
                  zeed
                  Apr 14, 2017 at 8:48 am
                  2 voting means 98 rejection. Go hide yourself in shame. Banana republic.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Suresh
                    Apr 14, 2017 at 10:51 am
                    Who did not vote ? Ppl who live in Kashmir Valley ( They are definitely not Kashmiris) . Not happy here ? Go to stan . Do not become parasites here by accepting our Bheek Shame and Disgraceful
                    Reply
                  2. N
                    Namak Haram Kashmiris
                    Apr 14, 2017 at 8:35 am
                    Kashmiris are Namak Haram, how dare they mistreat our soldiers, for every slap, destroy the life of double the youths, Namak is there in their genes
                    Reply
                    1. Z
                      zeed
                      Apr 14, 2017 at 8:47 am
                      And you are the progeny of Sanghiz_collaborators jo apni mata ko hi bech khae. Go and loot more water and electricity from Kashmir. You are nothing more than a common thief.
                      Reply
                      1. J
                        Jai Hind - Jai Bharat
                        Apr 14, 2017 at 9:06 am
                        You ppl just know how to deal with stones, but wait & watch one day that same stone will be on your face too. Har Har Modi
                        1. S
                          Suresh
                          Apr 14, 2017 at 10:57 am
                          And you are the progeny of Jihadi_collaborators jo apni mata ko hi bech khae. Go and kill more water and electinnocents from Kashmir. You are nothing more than a beggar who depends on Hindustan's Bheek
                      2. K
                        kamath ng
                        Apr 14, 2017 at 8:04 am
                        Politics failed in the state.
                        Reply
                        1. K
                          Karan
                          Apr 14, 2017 at 7:47 am
                          There should be permanent President rule in J&K and control of power should be hands of central govt
                          Reply
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