Sebdan (Budgam): The residents of Galwanpora village in Sebdan, a few kilometres from Srinagar, remember the exact number of votes National Conference and PDP got during 2014 assembly elections—545 and 280. The figures are quoted precisely to announce an affinity with elections. This time around, not a single resident turned out to vote.
“Vote travith peyi paezaar; az wuchaw na travith kya gacchi (We voted and got batons, let us see what staying away from vote does). These politicians have been cheating us by asking us to vote. Election is not in favour of Kashmir,” said an elderly man in Haran, another village in Sebdan area.
He was chatting with a group of villagers near the government higher secondary school in Soibug, which doubled as polling booth today, where no voter had turned up till 3pm. The booth had a total 866 voters.
Five persons in Galwanpora had been assigned the job of keeping the ‘angry youth’ away from throwing stones at government forces.
“Today the forces outnumber the village population. We want to ensure youth don’t throw stones at them because we want to save the village from the forces today,” they said. All of them had voted in 2014 elections.
“Weren’t the boys killed in Budgam my sons? We should not forget this,” said another person, pleading anonymity. He had voted for PDP in the 2014 elections. “But what did we get for our vote. Killings and blinding,” he added.
A police officer posted at a nearby polling booth, where no vote had been cast out of the total 1338, said, “vote mat pade. Lekin pathar nai anaa chahiye (let them not vote but they should also not throw stones.”
A company each of police and paramilitary troopers had been deployed outside each of the 38 polling booths that went for re-poll today.
Outside Galwanpora B polling booth, the village Lumberdar, 72-year-old Ghulam Ahmad Bhat, said they have decided to boycott this time as “nothing has been achieved by casting vote so far”.
A CRPF trooper from Delhi’s Daryangunj area told this reporter, “A lot of people are moving around but none voted.”
People in this booth had taken hostage a group of paramilitary troopers on Sunday when Srinagar constituency went for polls.
“Though people boycott voting they were benevolent to offer us tea and water,” said the polling staff in the booth. No political party’s polling agent was present at the booth.
Fifteen vehicles belonging to CRPF and police were stationed in Nasrullahpora village. A group of men outside a shuttered shop were discussing who among them has not voted in past elections. All had voted.
But this time around, they said, they are sitting idle because of the boycott.
“Otherwise we too would be canvassing for our Kafan Choors(shroud thieves, an epithet for exploitative politicians). ‘Have you heard about Kafan Choor’?” they asked me.
“They (shroud thieves) would gouge out eyes of the dead. Last year we saw how our young boys were blinded,” said one of them.
Because of the fierce protests in the village on Sunday, the booth was stationed in another village, Takipora. Only three votes had been cast, out of the total 2400 vote.
A man walking outside the booth, when asked whether he was going to vote, said, “me cha votan naar dun (no way).Had we known they would shift the polling booth to our village we would not have allowed them. But we were taken by surprise,” he added.
At some distance, youths were throwing stones at the forces. One of the protestors kicked this reporter on the back while hurling abuses on the media.
“These media persons are Indian agents,” he said.
In Patlibagh area where the polling booth was stationed in government middle school, no vote had been cast out of 1000 voters till 3:50 pm.
A policeman guarding the booth said, “Had they thrown stones or protested we would have ensured these people remember our QRT (Quick Reaction Team) for lifetime. Yeman peyeha shen retan tentus manz roun (they would have had to live in a tent for six months,” he said.
This reporter asked him if what he meant.
“We don’t kill a civilian. That is wrong. Akh phetrawuhauk yeman makaan baye karhok dagge maar (we would have damaged their homes and beat them blue),” he added.