People In Kashmir Valley Defy 'Boycott Trend', Vote Without Fear

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer) Srinagar- Farhad Mir's experience at the polling station in Srinagar's Eidgah on Monday stood in stark contrast to the last Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Back then, he swiftly entered the polling station and completed the voting process within a mere 20 minutes, while today, he had to wait for two hours to cast his vote.

This transformative shift in scenes at most of the polling stations was witnessed throughout the constituency that went to polls on Monday. From the quiet, deserted polling stations of previous elections to the bustling, queue-filled centers of this year's polls, the change was palpable.


“There is a shift in perception towards voting. People are openly participating and it is no longer shrouded in secrecy,” Mir said.

Notably, the voting in Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency broke the record of previous two Lok Sabha elections with
38% polling percentage. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the total turnout for the seat was around 14.43 per cent, while in 2014, it was 25.86 per cent.

For the first time, Abdul Hameed, 65 is casting his vote“without any fear”. Hameed, a staunch supporter of National conference (NC) turned to the polling station in Srinagar's Habba Kadal in wee hours along with his family of four.

Read Also Srinagar Records Historic Voter Turnout, Highest Since 1989 An Open Plea

“We cast our vote without any fear and threat,” Hameed, a retired school teacher, told Kashmir Observer, adding“This is how it should have been”

Notably, this was the first time since revocation of special status that people were able to vote.

Interestingly, all the political parties campaigned without any fear for the first time in the three decades of conflict. Since no militant organisation gave any threat call, neither any separatists group gave a poll boycott call.
was also expecting a major voter turnout.

“That's why people in large numbers came to vote,” said Imtiyaz Khan, who casted his vote in Khanyar segment.

According to 67-year-old Nazir Ahmad, most of the people who were part of“boycott” have realized that elections are important and what regional parties mean for Kashmir.

“Earlier it was about Sadak, Pani and Bijli, now it's about our existence, that's why you can see long queues in every polling station,” Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Chadoora, Budgam said.

Political pundits in the valley maintain that this will be the most interesting election in the history of Kashmir which will shape the future political discourse of the valley.

While BJP decided not to contest elections from the three seats of the valley, all eyes are on the triangular contest among Farooq Abdullah's National Conference (NC), Mehbooba Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and newly created J&K Apni Party.

There are over 24 candidates in fray, however the main contest is between NC, who has fielded
top Shia leader Agha Syed Ruhullah, and PDP's Waheed ur Rehman Para.

The Srinagar PC comprises 18 Assembly segments including Central Kashmir's Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam district and South Kashmir Shopian and Pulwama Districts.

Pertinent to mention, many areas in Srinagar PC have historically been a stronghold for separatist boycott calls, resulting in lower voter turnouts during previous elections.

However, post abrogation of Article 370, things have changed entirely with a significant surge in voter turnout.

In south Kashmir's Pulwama district, once considered as a hub of militants and separatists, a remarkable shift was observed during the recent elections. Women stood in queues without covering their faces, confidently engaging with the media.

Tanzeela Hameed, 26 a resident of Beighpora Pulwama said most of the people casted their vote to an individual rather than his party.

“The candidate got a lot of sympathy votes in our district because he was made to suffer a lot, post abrogation of Article 370,” Hameed, a student told Kashmir Observer.

Most of the voters who spoke with Kashmir Observer maintain that the area had a festive atmosphere after a prolonged period, with people showing great enthusiasm for participating in the elections.

“Not only common people but the parents of slain militants also cast their vote,” a voter said,
adding,“A number of people who had crossed the age of 50-60 casted their vote for the first time.”

Notably, the regional political parties had appealed to the people to come out in large numbers and cast their vote to show resentment against the New Delhi for abrogating article 370.

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