Jammu and Kashmir: From boycott to ballot, the swing

The turnout statewide was over 71 per cent.

Written by Bashaarat Masood , Mir Ehsan | Ganderbal/bandipore | Updated: November 26, 2014 10:25 am
Queue outside a polling station in Ganderbal, last represented by Omar Abdullah. (Source: IE photo by Shuaib Masoodi) Queue outside a polling station in Ganderbal, last represented by Omar Abdullah. (Source: IE photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

From early on a foggy morning, a steady stream marched towards polling stations. The men didn’t hide their faces; the women didn’t shy away from the cameras. There was no discourse on boycott and voting; instead it was on who should form the government and who must be kept out of power.

The turnout statewide was over 71 per cent. Chief electoral officer Umang Narula said Sonawari had a turnout of 80 per cent, followed by 79 per cent in Doda and 77 per cent in Gurez.

“No one will boycott the elections this time,” said Umar Manzoor, 21, at Saloora of Ganderbal.

Army men, usually tense during polls, were taking cellphone pictures of the long queues outside the booths, and policemen and CRPF personnel were cracking jokes. “Last time, we had to chase stone-pelters every half-hour,” said a CRPF officer at Papchan village of Bandipore.

The reasons for the enthusiasm varied from voter to voter. “We have to vote and defeat Omar Abdullah,” said Umar Manzoor. The CM won Ganderbal last time, though he is contesting elsewhere now.

At Ganderbal’s Tulmulla, where no one had voted in the parliamentary elections, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, 27, said of Tuesday’s voting: “These are entirely different elections, meant to solve our day-to-day problems.”

Others were driven by the fear that a boycott would benefit the BJP. Said schoolboy Mohammad Asif Wani of Safapora in Sonawari, “This time people fear that if they don’t vote, outsiders will come to power.”

At Barsoo village in Ganderbal, National Conference supporters got into a scuffle with PDP voters outside the polling station. “We are here to vote for National Conference. Had Omar contested from here, we wouldn’t have even come out of our homes,” said Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, 72.

At Bandipore, where sitting PDP legislator Nizamudin Bhat is facing the Congress’s Usman Majeed, supporters of candidates had even set up small camps outside the polling stations. “We didn’t vote last time. At this polling station, there was stone-pelting all day,’’ said Shabir Ahmad Wani at Papchan village.

In Bandipore town, Abdul Rashid Parray pointed at the long queues and said, “Entire families are coming out to vote. Everyone is talking of change.”

In New Delhi, the Election Commission noted how a 121-year-old woman, Noor Bi, too came out to vote. The turnout over 71 per cent follows 52.63 per cent in these 15 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, and is also higher than the 64.97 per cent of the 2008 assembly elections. Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi said this “seems to be the highest ever turnout” in these areas.

With ENS in New Delhi

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. Abdulmajeed Khan
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:51 pm
    The people of Jammu & Kashmir are well aware about the coming events. The casting 71 per cent votes is declining the boycott call of Separatists plus guarding the Article 370 protection to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This can be considered mandate against the separatists boycott call and against the BJP, who pressed to abrogation of Article 370 of the consution of India, which grant special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir within the Union of India.
    (0)(0)
    Reply
    1. Mahender Goriganti
      Nov 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm
      I hope the Muslims are realizing the benefit of being Indian than stani or Islamist and be subject to the Islamic laws
      (0)(0)
      Reply
      1. N
        NAGU
        Nov 26, 2014 at 7:23 am
        Where are stan supported so called Seperatists, when the polling is more than 70% , where as even in city like Bombay had a turn out of only 45% in recent election to embly . Kashmiri's want pure Democracy & change of guard which is a positive change. Naagu
        (0)(0)
        Reply
        1. R
          revoltman
          Nov 26, 2014 at 6:01 pm
          Middle finger to stan.
          (0)(0)
          Reply