Moti Ram, 75, lost his son Suraj Prakash to terrorists’ bullets near his house last September 26. Six months later, he cast his vote at Sanyal polling station Thursday morning for a candidate who works for the welfare of the people and development in the area.
He was not alone. Suraj’s widow Renu Bala, 30, too followed suit. For them, development and public welfare is possible only if there is peace in the area and the system is free of corruption.
Despite attempts to polarise people following two terrorist attacks in Kathua and communal violence in Kishtwar since last year, development of their respective areas appeared to be the main concern of those who turned up in good numbers at polling stations along the international border and in Billawar, Basohli and the Chenab Valley. Polling was brisk in Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency where nearly 56 per cent of the 14.61 lakh electorate had voted by 3 pm.
With long queues outside all polling stations, officials expected the poll percentage to touch 70 per cent at the end of the day — a significant increase from 44.48 per cent in 2009. At 3 p.m., the highest 71 per cent polling was recorded at Reasi district, followed by Kathua (63.71), Udhampur (59.19), Kishtwar (58.66), Ramban (58) and Doda (56.24).
Despite heavy rain, Gool and Ramban also reported heavy turnout. Lodhra polling station-15 in Arnas recorded 100 per cent polling by 3 pm.
“Don’t go by the number of flags of one or the other political party. People are voting for the candidate who can ensure all round development in their area,” said Onkar Nath, 55, lamberdar of village Thothachak. Significantly, the development concerns range from repair of a village pond to having a pucca house, road and hospital, among others.
Reports reaching here indicated polling on similar lines in other parts of the constituency. Padamnav Sharma, 100, who cast his vote at polling station-5 set up in DFO office, Batote, said his vote was for the candidate who works for the poor and ensures development in the area.
Officials said no untoward incident was reported during the polling today. Two people were injured during clashes between workers of two rival parties in Dachhan area of Kishtwar on Tuesday. Wednesday evening also, security forces had seized an IED among other explosives at Pul Doda.