Kashmir voters brave chill, boycott to vote for better future

November 17th, 2008 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS  

Trigam (Jammu and Kashmir), Nov 17 (IANS) They braved the winter chill, the overcast sky and defied the boycott call given by separatists Monday to vote for better facilities and a brighter future at this Jammu and Kashmir village.Situated 20 km north of the summer capital Srinagar, this polling station in a village in Sonawari constituency saw dozens of voters queuing up from morning to exercise their franchise.

Located inside a government middle school, the polling station was representative of the mood of voters in the rest of the constituencies which went to the polls Monday morning.
The boycott call did not seem to have an impact.

Muhammad Afzal 45, wearing a ‘pheren’ (traditional Kashmiri tweed garment), said as he waited for his turn that he would vote for someone who would provide better facilities.

“The boycott call would not help us. Our last representative did nothing for us. We have no roads, no safe drinking water, no healthcare facilities. We will elect a representative this time who will really work for our village,” Afzal told IANS.

Another voter, Syed Gazanfar Hussain, 47, added: “We are not threatened by anybody either to vote or not to vote. It is our basic right to elect a representative who works for our welfare. Basic demands of life cannot wait for anybody.”

There were two queues for the 699 voters at this polling station — one each for 364 men and the 335 women.

Sakina, 24, was perhaps the youngest in the 20 women queuing up to vote: “I am unemployed and helping my mother with household chores. I am a graduate. I am worried for my future and electing the right representative can address my problems.”

Asked whether it was worth voting in such cold weather, she said: “It is better to brave the cold for one day than face it for the rest of your life.”

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