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People in Shopian trek long distances to cast vote

08:24 AM May 14, 2024 IST | Gulzar Bhat
people in shopian trek long distances to cast vote

Shopian, May 13



A winding road snaking through the mountains, dotted with mighty pine trees, leads to Zarkan village, some 10 km from south Kashmir’s Shopian town.


Near the gateway of the village, the Government Primary School witnessed a long queue of people awaiting their turn to exercise their franchise. A feeling of weariness was palpable on their faces as they went inside the school, which housed a polling station, to cast their ballots.


“We covered a distance of more than 10 km on foot to cast our votes,” said Muhammad Sharif Tedwal of Shalidar, which is a further 2 km from the Zarkan village.


The residents of the Gujjar-inhabited village, comprising around 200 households, had moved to upper meadows along with their cattle.


“Today, we walked down from these remote meadows to exercise our democratic right,” said Tedwal.


He said that the community was confronting many issues which they believed would be resolved if they sent the right candidate to the Lok Sabha.

Abdul Rashid Poswal, another voter said that the roads, school, and electricity were some of the issues the community voted for.

A young voter from the community said that he voted against the assault which the community faced over the last few years.

“There were attempts to evict us from the forests. Even an eviction drive, which was later stopped, was launched in this area,” he said.

The voter said that they were voting to end discrimination against their community.

The voters from the community voiced their grievances about the placement of the polling station away from their village.

“We had to walk 2 more km from our village to get to this polling station,” said an elderly voter.

In Shopian assembly constituency, which has been merged with the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, saw the voters make a beeline for polling stations to cast their ballots since morning.

“We are voting to protect our identity and dignity,” said a voter in Shopian town.

Long queues were seen before the polling stations across the assembly segment.

In the areas like   Ramnagri and Kellar, unusual enthusiasm was seen among the voters.

Bashir Ahmad, another voter, said that he voted against the rising prices and increased electricity bills.