SOPORE: Deserted polling booths in Sopore did not make much sense to paramilitary CRPF men deployed for the first time in Kashmir. The troops deployed here were part of additional companies of CRPF brought to Kashmir to keep guard during Parliament elections.
“I have seen no queues, only people trickling in one by one. I have been in Madhya Pradesh on election duty but there I had to manage long queues of people eager to vote. There is no such thing here,” said a CRPF man guarding the Sopore Degree College which was one of the polling stations established in Sopore. He was accompanied by other men, one of whom was from Odisha and another from Assam.
People of Sopore, as they have done in many previous elections, mostly did not come out to vote on Thursday, despite the Baramulla parliamentary constituency involved in a tight contest among the National Conference, the Peoples Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, and Independent candidate Er Rasheed.
“It makes no sense why there is no voting,” said another CRPF man guarding the Sopore degree college. “I have not seen 100 percent voting anywhere but it has never been like this. The vote is the people’s right, and they should cast it to choose their representative. They should understand what it means to have these elections.”
The roads in Sopore, including the one leading to Srinagar, were deserted all day. Except for a few buntings of the National Conference (NC) at Pattan, there were no posters of any other political party visible. The college gate was guarded by highly armed CPRF and JK Police men. There were army Cassiper vehicles, too, parked inside the college lawn. The polling staff at the college classrooms, where polling booths had been set up, were resting on the students’ benches.