Srinagar: Soldiers deployed at polling booths in Srinagar parliamentary constituency were not surprised at the low turnout but appreciated those who came out to vote.
An SSB trooper clutching an INSAS rifle at a Bemina polling booth hailed those who came out to vote amid the general “boycott”. He said it was a given that people were not interested in voting in the Valley, but those who came in ones and twos to cast their vote should be garlanded.
“They came despite there being no mood for voting here and we should garland them,” he said.
A soldier from the Border Security Force, who hailed from Patna in Bihar, said he had been to Kashmir during the 1996 election, too, but things had much changed in the past two decades.
In 1996, he said, he was posted in Kupwara’s Drugmulla and adjoining areas where he saw that only people in the hilly areas came out to vote. “But now people across the Valley exercise their franchise even if the turnout is low,” he said.
His colleague, though, disagreed with him. He said the government of India spends huge money on elections in Jammu and Kashmir but only a few percent of the voters cast their vote. “We are here since last year’s panchayat election and we see the amount of money spent on our deployment. This money could have been spent on some development project,” he said.
He suggested that voting should be done online so that money is saved. He couldn’t convince, however, his colleague that this was practically possible.