Pollscape: College girls in Kashmir divided over voting in elections

SRINAGAR: The upcoming parliamentary election has drawn mixed reaction from college going girls in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, with a number of them saying they are eager to cast their vote but the majority appears endorsing the poll boycott campaign launched by pro-freedom camp.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, a number of college girls who are entitled to exercise their franchise, described voting as a ‘powerful weapon’ which empowers them.
“The right to vote is a privilege. And privileges are not to be wasted. If I have the power to choose our government, I consider it as an empowerment,” said Hadiya Ayoub, a student of Degree College Nawa Kadal.
“It feels good that one’s opinion is counted. So why not?” she said.
Expressing similar views, Asima Rasool, a student at SSM College of Engineering, Parihaspora, said that boycott elections will lead to more problems.
“We always have complaints with every government that comes into power. We tend to criticize every other thing. Casting a vote for that matter is a brilliant way of choosing the government one thinks as an ideal. I would definitely take full advantage of the right that I am entitled to,” said Rasool.
However, the majority of college girls said they would prefer not to vote.
Taniya Nabi, a student of Government Women’s College, M A Road, said, “Kashmir is a conflict state. In other words, it is an occupied land. And elections strengthen occupation and provide legitimacy to it.”
She added “We have been fighting for azadi from India for all these years. The question of voting is nowhere. We don’t need election, we need freedom.”
Nida Aslam, another student from Government Women’s College, M A Road, cited ‘restrictions’ as one of the many reasons for her decision not to cast vote during the ongoing parliamentary election and assembly elections as well which are scheduled later this year.
“Besides other reasons, I don’t think it is appreciated in our society if a woman comes out to vote with such restrictions and security forces personnel around. Neither would I prefer to come out under such circumstances, nor would my parents allow me to do so. Let we have a free Kashmir first, then I will surely come out to vote,” said Aslam.
Sheeba Hamid, a student of Islamia College, is of the opinion that casting a vote is mere formality. “To me it is a mere formality. Polling is a mad race to come into power, and the competing parties can do anything to win. The corrupt system we live in, it is quite possible that ballot boxes are replaced. So why should I bother myself.”