When voting ensured safety for militant’s family

Loragam (Tral):  Muhammad Subhan Bhat of Loragam, a village 5 km to the south of Tral, is preparing himself for afternoon prayers while his family members are busy working in the fields. Unlike previous Lok Sabha elections in 2009, where he had to go under a horde of travails, he is having none of the polls going on in his area.
He is not voting this time around. He did so in 2009, though. Not to please his favourite politician or in lieu of some favours, but  for the ‘safety’  of his family.
Bhat’s son Waseem Ahmad was an active militant in the area then. It meant trouble for him: Back in 2009, a week ahead of the polls, the father-son duo were taken into custody.
“One morning, a party of army soldiers from the nearby Nadar camp located in our adjoining village took me and my son into custody only to be released a day before the elections,” Bhat says, itching to make his way to nearby mosque.
He recalls the incident event by event.  “The army said that they have not come to carry out checking of our house but ordered me and my son to accompany them to the camp from where we were taken to Tral police station.”
Bhat was released a day before the scheduled polls, but had to make a pledge: He along with his wife, despite their reluctance, should be the first ones to vote in Loragam.
“We went there with a heavy heart to cast the vote. We knew if we didn’t it could invite more trouble,” says Bhat. His son was killed later in an encounter with the army in 2010.
Meanwhile, Bhat disappears from his backyard in his bid to reach the mosque in time for prayers, with ongoing polls hardly on his mind. The previous one will be inked on his mind forever though.

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