Loyal voters keep their date with polling in Downtown

Srinagar, April 19:

Ali Muhammad Mir, 72, was trying hard to remove the indelible ink mark polling officials daubed on his finger after he cast his vote in Khanyar, fearing scorn from the local inhabitants, who stayed away from the polling booths on Thursday.

But Mir says he has his reasons to vote, for National Conference, to which he and his two sons owed their government jobs.

“Come what may, I will vote. It is a promise I have made to Sheikh Abdullah (founder of the National Conference) when he was campaigning in our area in the 1970s.

Since then I have voted in every election. In fact, in 1996 election I was one of very few people who voted in our locality,” said Mir, who was in a hurry to bring his wife to the polling station.

“I have to bring her before the youth come out of their homes and throw stones at the polling station. And if they come to know that I have voted, it could spell trouble,” he said.

Mir is one of the hundreds of devoted people who have voted for individuals and parties in Srinagar, since 1996.

A few kilometers away from Khanyar, scores of women in Hasanabad locality had assembled outside a polling station. Wearing traditional Kashmiri veil to hide their faces, these women had come to vote for their religious preacher.

“Our vote is not for any party or ideology. We have come to vote because our religious leader has asked us to do so. We cannot disobey his command,” said Sakeena who didn’t disclose her last name.

She said that political parties come and go but “our religious preachers remain the same”.

“Though they switch parties, our love for them won’t diminish,” she said.

Another such pocket of dedicated voters could be found in the Sweepers’ Colony of Hawal area.

“Why shouldn’t we vote? From houses to jobs we have been provided all. It would be treachery on our side if we won’t vote. Political problem is there but we need somebody to listen to our grievances,” said Nazir Ahmad Sheikh, a resident.

Courtesy: Greater Kashmir

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