SRINAGAR: Along the shore of Nigeen Lake, residents of Leper Colony in Behrar queued up to vote from the morning, to support one of their own. This distinct settlement that grew in Srinagar’s Behrar area adjacent to the Leprosy Hospital had pitched its own candidate, Nasir Ahamd Naikoo, for the Lal Bazar Ward. The feeling of unity given to them by their disease and by decades of living in close proximity has made the residents here detached from the mainstream and its politics of boycott. They came out in strength to vote for their candidate despite the early morning cold. Even though only 250 people now reside in this colony, given the low voter turnout in Srinagar, many felt confident that they could make their candidate win. A first-time voter from the colony, who did not want his name to appear in newspaper, was candid enough to admit that he voted for Nasir, a fellow resident of Leper Colony. His father, who was also out to cast his vote, said that the residents of the colony decided to put up their own candidate for the post of councillor and Nasir was the right choice, as he is well versed with the problems faced by the residents.
“In 2008 he fought the assembly election for Zadibal constituency on the ticket of Bahaman Samaj Party (BSP), a major political party of India, but lost to the National Conference candidate,” he said.
Many women also came out to vote for Nasir, hoping that he would take forward the stalled new housing project for the colony’s residents.
Locals said that children of leprosy patients who are growing up in the colony needed better accommodation and facilities. The mud houses they live in were proposed to be replaced by the government, but new housing has still not been constructed.