Voters absent, Hindu troops squeamish at polling booth in slaughter house

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SRINAGAR: For the first time, authorities set up a polling station inside the lone functional abattoir (Zebha Khana) at Zind Shah Sahib (RA) area in old Srinagar, for elections to the city’s municipal corporation on Saturday.
According to figures available, only 98 voters from Zind Shah Sahib (RA) locality that falls in Ward 41 (Makhdoom Sahib) were entitled to vote at this station. Among the five candidates contesting elections for this ward is the owner of the abattoir (slaughter house).
The office of this single-storey facility was turned into a polling booth with polling officials occupying each inch of its floor. They were ready from early morning to receive voters but it was not the stench and the odour of disinfectants that kept the voters at bay, but the boycott being observed in the neighbouring locality. No vote had been polled at this station till 2pm.
Ajaz Ahamd, a local, said that this was the first time that a polling booth had been set up at the slaughter house. He said that polling booths were traditionally established at the nearby Power Development Department office.
Discontent was evident on the faces of CRPF troops who had been brought to the polling station on Friday evening.
“We cannot complain much,” said a trooper but added, “This should not have been a polling station.”
He said that the stench in the main hall did not allow them to sleep the entire night.
Other troops in the contingent said that they had requested for a room at the government-run fitness centre located opposite this slaughter house, but were denied.
One of the troopers was quick to complain that the authorities should not have dumped them here during the festival of Navrataras, when Hindus abstain from eating non-vegetarian food.
A JK Police cop who was also on duty at the polling station said that on Friday evening the CRPF troops were reluctant to go inside. Only after they were convinced that the facility is exclusively for slaughtering of sheep, and which has been on hold for the past few days, did they enter the main premises.
Srinagar city does not have a modern abattoir and the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) over the years has been unable to complete the process of establishing one.