Kashmir voters ponder over roads, water and jobs (Lead)

November 17th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Saderkote Payeen (Jammu and Kashmir), Nov 17 (IANS) The world looks at Kashmir as a hotspot between India and Pakistan. But people who voted here in Bandipora constituency Monday for a new legislature were more worried about local issues.It was still early and freezing cold as Haji Muhammad Yusuf, 60, finished casting his vote and was leaving the polling station, set up in the rural development department office.

“Our priority is issues like unemployment, roads and development,” Yusuf told IANS. “My participation in the voting process has nothing to do with the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.”

The elderly man made it clear that his children could not afford to sit idly until the five-decade Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan gets resolved.

“Something has to be done to secure their future. Unless we have the right person to represent us, such burning issues cannot be allowed to wait.”

Like Yusuf, Nighat Ara, 23, defied the poll boycott called by Islamic separatists. And like Yusuf, she too has similar priorities.

“I am voting for a job. If the representative of my choice wins the election, I am sure he will do something to get me a government job,” said the young woman.

“My parents are constantly worried about my unemployment. I must also do something to help my family. That is the reason I am here to cast my vote.”

In Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, Chief Electoral Officer B.R. Sharma gloated: “The first two hours of polling have been totally peaceful.”

Manzoor Ahmad, presiding officer at polling station number 110 - one of two here - told IANS: “People are casting their votes. We have faced no problem so far and the poll process is going on smoothly.”

There are 778 registered voters at this polling station. By 11 a.m., three hours after polling opened, 211 — including 156 men and 55 women — had exercised their franchise.

As the day warmed up, more were expected.

In the adjacent polling station, there are 642 registered voters. A total of 169, including 72 women, had voted by 11 a.m.

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