Tangmarg/Kunzer: People turned out in good numbers to vote in the famous tourist destination of Gulmarg and its adjacent villages on Thursday. Most of the voters who Kashmir Reader talked to said they wanted a genuine representative who would work for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue through dialogue.
The voters, both young and old, said the war-like situation recently created after the Pulwama attack had brought miseries to people associated with tourism in Tangmarg and Gulmarg.
“Our business faced the biggest setback after the Pulwama attack. There was no one talking about us and our problems,” said Fayaz Ahmad Jan, a voter who works as a tourist guide.
“I came to vote after a long time as I want someone to raise our problems in New Delhi,” he said.
Ghulam Nabi Dar of Ferozpora village said there was an 80 percent decline in tourist arrivals since the Pulwama attack.
“Most of the people in Tangmarg and adjacent villages are associated with tourism. They are the worst sufferers,” he said.
Dar, who is a licensed pony-walla for the past thirty years, said in this election villagers had decided to vote for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, instead of for employment and development.
“Our representative will at least try for dialogue between India and Pakistan,” he said.
Although it is too early to draw a conclusion, but a candidate contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time could turn the tables on seasoned politicians.
“Engineer Rashid is a popular choice among everyone here, as he has been vocal about human rights issues and the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan,” said Umar Hamid, a polling agent of the National Conference.
When asked why he was working with NC if Rashid was the popular candidate, he said, “It is due to loyalty for NC. But I want to be honest while speaking to you.”
Akbar Lone, who is contesting the Baramulla parliamentary seat on NC ticket, also enjoys support from various pockets due to support of senior party leader Mustafa Kamal and new entrant Farooq Shah, who was Director Tourism for many years.
According to some young voters, the incumbent representative has failed on many fronts. “We want to end the gundaraj in our areas which is being run by PDP workers,” said local resident, Firdous Ahmad.
He said that educated youth had suffered immensely due to flawed policies of the PDP-BJP government.
“Hundreds of educated youth have been denied jobs and financial support by the government. Only political workers availed facilities due to their influence. It has created alienation among them,” Ahmad said.