In Sopore, no one turns up to vote

Sopore, May 7: A group of youth in their early 20’s disappeared into a nearby lane in the main Chowk here on sighting a police vehicle. The fast moving van disappeared in a jiffy but the boys didn’t return. 
Soporians stayed indoors to boycott elections and the departure of the youth from the scene only added to the deserted look the town presented.
Amid unprecedented deployment of men-in-uniform the election authorities, sensing trouble, had set up around 20 polling booths inside the Degree College here. Outside, the booths were dominated by police and paramilitary troops, laced with automatic weapons. Inside, the polling staff, booth after booth, was sitting idle, some of them taking nap.
“Come, we have been waiting for a long time for somebody to turn up,” a polling official said, in a sarcastic tone, at a booth, set up for Neharpora locality. But none of the 510 voters registered there had turn up to cast their ballot.
The response from the polling staff at 15 other polling booths, housed in the College that had been turned into a garrison, was no different. Nobody had turned up to cast his vote there.
“This is how it is,” said a group of female polling staffers who were seated in a circle in the corridor.
Even the polling agents from different political parties had preferred to join locals in boycotting the polls.
“Don’t expect them at any booth here,” said a polling officer.  
By the end of the day Sopore where the separatist sentiment runs deep witnessed just 1.02 percent of voting, reflecting the election boycott.
At Arampora E-87 inside the college two out of 647 votes had been polled. “They were cast by family members of Congress leader GhulamRasoolKar,” said a source.
The CRPF and police dominated every road in the town. Even the interior lanes and by-lanes were under their watch to prevent people from moving out of their houses. 
Amid complete boycott in nearby Bomai angry youth fought pitched battles with men in uniform over the alleged misbehavior by Special Task Force (STF) men with a woman. 
CRPF did not allow media persons to enter the polling station. “AadeeshNaheinAapkoAndher Janay Ka (We have no orders to allow you inside,” said a CRPF official standing outside polling station. 
A youth, who wished not to be named, said late Tuesday night authorities had relocated a polling booth from Boys High School to Girls High School after heavy stone-pelting by the youth. 
Heavy clashes were on between angry youth and the forces late Wednesday afternoon in the area. “We reject elections, it’s a drama. We will not vote,” a group of youth with stones in their hands, yelled. “No election, no selection, we want freedom.” 
They alleged that STF personnel misbehaved with a woman and even tore her clothes. “See what they did to me,” the woman said. “They tore my clothes and broke windowpanes of our house,” she said. Her father, Muhammad Ramzan said STF men took away his son, Naseer Ahmed Rather from their farm. “They wreaked havoc.”
People of Dangerpora and Zainageer also sided with the separatists. “These two areas used to witness brisk polling in the past but today, situation is altogether different. Few people cast their votes,” said Shakeel Ahmed, a resident of Zainageer.

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