'Vote No Betrayal: Azadi Apni Jagah, Vote Apni'

9 December 2014
Kashmir Observer
Adil Lateef

Pulwama: In parliament polls held this year, Pulwama and Tral Assembly segments recorded lowest turnout amid pro-freedom protests, but voting for the local government elections does not construe as 'betrayal to the freedom cause' for most people who polled their vote in the south Kashmir district. However, this time, the polling percentage climbed as compared to previous polls even as Hurriyat factions, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and United Jihad Council called for poll boycott. But voters said by defying poll boycott call, they aren't betraying or drifting away from cause of 'Azadi'. They said 'Azadi as well as casting vote is their right' and they can't give them away. Though they are claiming to be with separatist cause, but say boycott 'has yielded nothing'. 'We want roads, jobs, change and end to poverty,' they said. Outside a polling station in Kakapora, Javaid Ahmad Bhat, who was standing in queue to cast his vote for first the first time, said: 'We want development. We want our demands to be fulfilled. If we didn't vote, then we will be in loss,' he said, but quickly added: 'We are with Kashmir issue and want its solution.' The three polling stations at Kakpora recorded brisk polling till 9:00 am. There were 1699 votes in these polling stations and 97 were polled. There were long queues of voters waiting to cast their vote. 'I am voting for the first time,' Shameema, a woman in her 40s, said. 'We want an end to poverty and unemployment,' she added and was endorsed by two to three women who were standing with her. Three elderly persons at Pulwama Girls Higher Secondary School are staunch supporters of vote. Even after Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the founder of National Conference, dumped plebiscite movement, these three persons still advocate plebiscite by invoking grand Abdullah's 22 year long struggle from 1953 to 1977. Noor Muhammad, Muhammad Ramzan and Abdul Ahad Wani, in one voice, say they are with 'Tehreek'. 'This vote is not for India. This is for prosperity. Kashmir is unresolved and proofs are separate constitution and the United Nation office in Srinagar,' they said. Noor Muhammad said the 'gun is no solution' to Kashmir issue and only dialogue between India, Pakistan and Hurriyat can solve this issue. At Tral Payeen, two veiled women, who wished not to be named, were coming out of polling station after casting their votes. 'I am voting for the first time. See, we have lot of problems. During recent floods, my daughter was pregnant and when she developed pain all the hospitals in Srinagar were inundated. We couldn't take her to any of hospitals due to floods. Now, if we had a good hospital here, we would have taken her there but we don't have,' said one of the women. 'She was bed ridden for three long months and was about to die but thank God, she survived,' the woman added. There were 2380 votes in twin polling stations at Tral Payeen and out of which 357 were polled till 12:40 pm. A student, who claimed to be an ex-stone-pelter, said he and his friends preferred ballot as they want 'prosperous Pulwama'. Tariq Ahmad, a laborer, said that pro-freedom leaders are right in their boycott call 'but we have to forget it'. 'I voted for the eradication of unemployment. But I am with Azadi. It is our right so is vote. If there would be unemployment, youth indulge in mischief. They resort to robbery and pelt stones,' he said.