Haven’t seen ‘Such An Election’ anywhere before: CRPF Personnel

Deserted polling booths and lack of poll festivity was a “rare sight” for Central Reserve Police Force personnel deployed for the first time in Srinagar to guard polling booths during the second phase of urban local body elections Wednesday.
At least six CRPF men were seen guarding a polling booth at ward number 24 in Chattabal area—which witnessed zero voting—and gossiping about why people in Kashmir don’t turn up to vote.
Ramesh Kumar, a CRPF man from Chattisgarh, who was deployed for poll duty for the first time in Kashmir, said: “I have never seen a situation like this in any part of India. I have been deployed for duties in the 2014 parliamentary polls where I have seen serpentine queues of voters. I am standing here since 5 am, but not even a single person has showed up to vote.”
For Kumar, 36, the deserted polling booth was a rare sight.
“This is for the first time I am seeing polling staff sitting idle and enjoying tea. They have nothing else to do,” he said.
Kumar said he had been deployed in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat for poll duties in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections which saw BJP emerging as the single-largest party.
Another CRPF man, standing at the main entrance of the polling booth, asked his colleague why people were not coming out to vote.
“It’s 2 pm and I didn’t see any voter here. I have seen voters in rest of the country flocking polling booths for varied reasons—some for change and some for development,” he said. “Here, things are completely different. It’s for the first time I was deployed for poll duty in Srinagar but I can feel people are angry and don’t want to vote at all.”
Things were similar at ward number 33 in Tankipora where a CRPF man guarding a polling booth said things in Srinagar are “totally different from what is being projected in rest of the country.”
“When people here don’t want to vote, which is a birth right of every citizen, how can netas (politicians) at New Delhi say all is well in Kashmir,” the CRPF man, who identified himself as Venkatesh from West Bengal, said.
“Despite being in CRPF, I have never missed to cast my vote,” he said. “Leaders sitting in Delhi must talk to the people of Kashmir to know why they are not coming out to vote. It is strange and surprising to see polling booths deserted and people disinterested about the elections.”
According to an official handout, Chattabal witnessed zero voting, though eight votes were polled in Tankipora.
At Syed Ali Akbar (RA) Fateh Kadal, only eight votes were cast throughout the day, according to the handout.
Asked about their experience of guarding polling booths in Srinagar, a group of CRPF men readying for withdrawal, said: “Lougon nay bhi araam kiya, hum nay bhi araam kiya (people relaxed and we also took rest.”
However, one among them stated: “aisa election pehlay kabhi nahi dekha (haven’t seen such an election before).”
At least 300 companies of additional forces have been deployed for the ULB polls in Kashmir and majority of them comprise CRPF companies including those earlier deployed for smooth conduct of the annual Amarnath Yatra.
An elderly man sitting outside the polling booth at Syed Ali Akbar (RA) shrine at Fateh Kadal, while looking at the CRPF men withdrawing from the area, said: “We don’t want votes, elections; we want resolution of Kashmir issue.”
He shouted at the CRPF personnel: “Yahan koi vote nahi dalega (nobody will vote here now).”
As per official figures, Kashmir witnessed 3 per cent polling in the second phase