Livelihood Can Wait, Voting Cannot: Ponywallahs Keep Tourists Waiting To Exercise Franchise

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer) Pahalgam- They are often seen jostling with each other to pick up tourists for pony rides in this south Kashmir resort but on Saturday the ponywallahs decided to make visitors wait.

They had to cast their vote for the polls to the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir in the sixth round of the seven-phase general elections.


“I left my horses to graze and went to cast my vote as it is my right,” Muzaffar Ahmed, a ponywallah, said and added that others also took time out to exercise their franchise as it was“very essential in a democracy”.

Ponywallahs had queued up at polling booths to exercise their franchise, even though the tourist hub of Pahalgam was brimming with visitors. Some rode on horses to reach booths quickly to vote and get back to business.

“We can earn our livelihood any day but we do not get this chance (to vote) every day. We should not waste this chance. Earning our livelihood can wait but voting cannot,” Ahmed said. Voting is important to ensure development, he added.

Read Also Anantnag Records 53%- Highest Voter Turnout Since 1984 Poll Process For 5 Lok Sabha Seats In J&K Ends

“We have to vote to choose our representative who can then work to address our issues and bring development,” he said.

Mohammad Rafiq, another ponywallah, said some tourists wanted to pony rides in the morning but“we preferred to vote instead”.“Today we could not let this chance go. Tourists will come again and we will earn again but this is our duty (to vote),” he said.

Rafiq said employment was the main issue for the youth in this elections.“We have many other issues, we want tourism to flourish, we want increase in employment opportunities,” he said.

“People of Kashmir face many issues... these need to be resolved. We want such a representative who can truly represent us. The poor are always neglected. We are the face of the people of Kashmir as we directly interact with tourists, so we want someone who can bring a change for the better,” Rameez Ahmed, another ponywallah, said.

In Kulgam, there was an elderly man who came to a polling station riding a horse.

“I am barely able to offer prayers but I came on a horse to vote as I did not waste my vote,” the man said, proudly displaying his inked finger.

He said that“we have done what was our duty and now it is up to the elected representatives to fulfil their responsibility”. People face several issues like lack of development and rising unemployment, the man added.

Some also stayed away from the electoral exercise, saying there was no benefit.

“There is no benefit of voting. Those who get elected do not work for the people. They only care about themselves. Our issues remain unaddressed,” a local tea vendor in Pahalgam said.

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