Shy to the camera, bold to the ballot

Shy to the camera, bold to the ballot
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Sumbal, Bandipora: Sumbal municipal committee in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district witnessed the highest numbers of votes polled in the second phase of Urban Local Body (ULB) elections held on Wednesday. This was in stark contrast with elections for the Bandipora municipal committee held on Monday in which only 3.8 percent votes were polled.
Today’s polling, which began at 6am, witnessed brisk footfall from early on. Men and women clad in pherans and warm clothes stood in long queues at the polling station set up at Government Boys’ Middle School in Sunburn locality. Here the highest number of votes was cast for Ward-9. The total votes polled here numbered 820, in which 413 were males and 407 females.
At Government Degree College Sumbal, people young and old were queuing up to vote. Though the polling station here had booths for four wards, the number of voters wasn’t as much as at the boys’ middle school. Some elderly persons, supported by two to three family members, had also come to cast their vote.
Despite the enthusiastic voting, voters were reluctant to face the camera. Many of them got into confrontations with press photographers, who returned upset and without clicking a photograph. Police and army pacified the angry voters by barring media persons from clicking photographs of voters standing in queues.
“We faced a lot of problems in taking pictures of the voters. They were furious when we pointed our cameras at them. We had to wait and find vantage points to record videos and click pictures,” said a photojournalist from a national daily.
Another photojournalist said that the photographers were confronted by voters and some were verbally abused.
Police and other government forces stationed at the polling booths were clearly directed “not to upset the mood of the voters” by allowing photographers to take pictures, said some journalists.
In Sumbal’s total 13 wards, 11 wards went to polls. The candidates for Wards 1 and 8 had already been declared winners unopposed.
Bandipora Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sheikh Zulfiqar Azad said that the situation was “peaceful” and “voters were feeling safe”.
“People in large numbers turned out to cast their vote,” he said.
Ward-9 was followed in number of votes polled by Ward-8, Boon Mohalla, which recorded 699 votes, of which 379 were by males and 320 by females. The third-highest count was at Ward- 12, Ganzeer Mohalla, where 504 voters, 273 males and 231 females, cast their vote.
Ward-6, Chan Mohalla, recorded 262 votes; Ward-5, Arampora, 184; Ward-10, Manz Mohalla, 174; Ward-4, Main Bazar, 73; Ward-2, Wangipora Payeen, 48; Ward-3, Bat Mohalla, 37; Ward-13, Rakhe Asham, 28; and Ward-7, Dumpora, the lowest tally, with only 5 votes.