‘There were more troops than voters in polling booths’
Srinagar: People preferred to stay away from polling for so-called assembly elections in many areas of Srinagar on Sunday.
Following intense clashes with protestors, Police and paramilitary CRPF personnel had erected concertina wires on roads leading to Maisuma. The entire area wore a deserted look as cops patrolled its lanes while firing tear gas canisters to stop stone-pelting from its interior areas. The roads were dotted with stones and burnt tyres.
“Since last night we have been facing intense stone pelting. We have blocked the trouble spots to prevent stone-pelters from regrouping and attacking us,” a CRPF man posted near GawKadalbridge told media. Out of 448 votes, just a single vote was polled at Dubji A Maisuma polling station till 10.30 am. The other two polling stations also recorded low turnout with just three and 26 votes out of 586 and 587 votes, respectively.
In Court Road and GawKadal localities, the scene was no different with lone polling station also recording a low turnout. However, in MandirBagh locality queues were missing as people voted in ones and twos. Till afternoon, 86 votes were polled out of 669 at BasantBagh polling station.
Most of the polling booths in downtown Srinagar wore a deserted look Sunday, as most of the people preferred boycott over polls.
Inside the Islamia High School, Rajouri Kadal, an eerie silence prevails. While some troopers were having their lunch, cops were puffing cigarettes to kill time. By noon, just 29 votes out of 1555 were cast at two of the three polling booths established in the school run by Anjuman-e-Nusratul Islam. No voter turned up at the booth number 15 Rajouri Kadal.
“I used to vote before the eruption of armed struggle but not after 1987 elections. Thousands of our youths have been killed. So much blood has been shed by India and you expect us to vote,” he said.
As the elderly man was speaking, many others, including youths, joined in. “We are on complete boycott,” they said in one voice. Asked what you think of those who vote, one of them said: “They are traitors. They trade the blood of martyrs. It hurts us when we see them vote forgetting everything.”