Eligible voters stay away, boycott continues

Taking cue from the first phase of Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls in Kashmir, the eligible voters in the second phase Wednesday said they were boycotting polls because of the failure of elected representatives to solve Kashmir issue.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Shah Junaid of Bemina East Municipal Ward said, “Some people in our area voted either for money or for getting their personal work done but now people are boycotting for the non-resolution of Kashmir issue.”
“So many people have died since 2016 Kashmir uprising. What should we vote for,” Junaid said. “The municipality has even not been able to provide sweepers to civilian areas for decades now.”
Junaid was seconded by his friend Huzaif Mir who said elections have not helped resolve Kashmir issue while the development in Kashmir, particularly Srinagar was a “hoax”.
“They only want to develop Jammu City and Leh and have not done anything for Srinagar,” Mir said.
Both Junaid and Mir said they have not ever voted in elections since attaining the eligibility age for voting.
On the rare side of the Modern High School polling booth for Solina ward of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Nabeel Wani and Aymen Dar also complained about the failure of the successive elected representatives to either work toward solving Kashmir issue or tangibly improving civic facilities in Srinagar City.
“These elections are being held to again fool us. They want us to forget that so many people have been killed,” they said. “The times have changed because the areas voting earlier in huge numbers have also started to boycott.”
The 20 wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) going for polls in the second phase including Solina, Alochi Bagh, SD Colony Batamaloo, Ziarat-e-Batamaloo, Shaheed Gunj, Karan Nagar, Chattabal, Qamarwari, Bemina East, Bemina West, Nund Reshi Colony, Parimpora, Zainakote, Lawaypora, Mujigund, Tankipora, Haba Kadal, Barbar Shah, Fateh Kadal, and Munawarabad all had the same story to tell on Wednesday.
However, unlike majority of wards of Kunzer, Magam, Chrari Sharief, Beerwah, Frisal and Bijbehara which had single candidates, SMC witnessed 72 contesting candidates for the second phase.
In comparison to voting percentage for the first phase of three Srinagar wards, the percentage in the second phase with a significantly higher number of wards was very less.
A group of elderly men outside Neelum Cinema, which falls under the Batamaloo municipal ward, said elections for them holds no meaning until Kashmir issue was solved.
On assertions that municipal polls were being conducted for local issues only, the group said, “If they want development then they should stop killing us first. These elections are being conducted to tell the United Nations that we have voted for India.”
They said Srinagar’s trend of boycotting has now spread to areas where mainstream political parties derived their strength.
Outside Muslim Public School polling station in Chattabal ward of SMC, a group of teenage boys who are not even eligible to vote, shouting pro-freedom slogans said, “Nobody here wants to vote and we won’t even allow anybody to vote.”
A vigilante group of boys to keep eye on voters was also standing outside Salsabeel Educational Institute in Parimpora ward and Tiny Harts School polling booth of Nund Reshi colony ward of SMC.