Ink-inspired voters boost Lok Sabha turnout in Pulwama, Shopian

Contrary to the trend of past years, voters began lining up outside polling stations early in the morning.

A voter raises an ink-stained finger after voting in the Lok Sabha. (Wasim Andrabi/HT)

Shopian and Pulwama have been hotbeds of militancy in the past, with dozens of locals and foreign terrorists killed in clashes over the past two decades, which has also contributed to consistently depressed opinion polls.

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This time, however, people gathered outside polling stations after voting to discuss politics without fear.

Mohammad Ashraf, who voted at a school in Sambora, said: “Although I have lived for 40 years, this is the first time in my life that I have voted.” After two hours of voting, 71 votes were cast After voting is completed, there are still a few ballots waiting patiently in line. “We want our representatives to take charge so that the problems we are facing will end,” Ashraf added.

Pulwama and Shopian are strongholds of the People’s Democratic Party, which is competing with the National Conference and Apni Party.

“For the first time, people voted without fear,” said voter Nasir Ahmed. He makes a living by extracting sand from the Jhelum river, said.

By the end of the day, the turnout in Pulwama and Shopian districts was around 45%. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the figures were only 2.14% and 2.88% due to multiple stone pelting and protests.

In stark contrast, a festive atmosphere replaces fear. “In previous elections, you could not stand near the polling station due to fear. Now the situation is de-escalated and peaceful, which is definitely a good sign for our village and the entire area known for encounters and protests,” said a resident of 1,100 households said a voter in the family’s Samburla village.

Female voters were just as enthusiastic as their male counterparts, and local Jawahara said: “We finally realized that votes are more powerful than anything and can empower us again.”

Ghulam Mohammad Tantray, 55, said it was the first time in his life that he had voted. “I have never voted in my life. Today, I, a father of three, decided to vote because this way we can express how we feel,” he said.

In the neighboring village of Pinglena, party workers were transporting voters in vehicles. Even the shops outside the polling stations were open and people sat in small groups to watch the whole process.

“We thought our vote would end our difficulties, especially after 2019, when everything was going against us,” said Altaf Ahmad, who is pursuing a BTech.

In Pulwama’s Fort Wash, voters are optimistic. “Voters have been coming out in large numbers since the morning. This is different from the past. Voting. “I will vote tonight. This was the first time in decades that I saw a relaxed atmosphere in Pulwama town.

In Keegam, Shopian, 250 votes out of 1,133 were cast in the first two hours. “We used to have guns, but now we don’t. We want our government to have our representatives end our suffering,” said Lateef Ahmad Kaloo, a former government employee sitting outside a polling station. ) said.

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