This Baramulla village voted for ‘freedom from FIRs’
Baramulla, Apr 11: Three single-storey blocks spread on a few
kanals of land is what comprises the 66-year-old High School in Singhpora, a
village of 20,000 people close to Pattan town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla
At 9 am on Thursday, youth and
elderly lined up in good numbers to cast their votes in this school. It was A
peculiar sight for a village which, over the years, has been in news for
nocturnal raids, arrests, boycotts and, of course, stone pelting.
“I have come to vote as I have 17
cases against me. I want to get rid of them,” said 60-year-old Rahim, who did
not give his last name.
Rahim claimed he was innocent and
that the cases were slapped “to extort money” from him.
“I have never cast a vote before.
I am 60. We are forced to vote now. I think that is the only way to save
ourselves. Hopefully the candidate I’ve voted for will help me get out of this
mess,” he said.
If one was to believe Rahim, as
many as 350 youth and elderly in the village had police cases registered
against them, many filed during the 2010 and 2016 phases of unrest.
“We have always been terrorised.
Not just by the government forces, even the politicians here have neglected
us,” he said.
As Rahim spoke, a lanky man with
glazed eyes, probably in his early 20s, stood next to him, eager to speak.
“Mere khilaf paanch parche hain (I have five
FIRs against me),” he said, finally jumping into the conversation.
“Every month, I have to be
present in the court. I wouldn’t have voted, but there is no option left. I
have voted for Rashid Engineer, he is a people’s person. He himself has been
thrashed many times like me. I think he will take up our issues and solve
them,” said the youth who identified himself as Bilal.
Youth who’d come to vote huddled
Bilal, many shouting that the village was also “entirely neglected” by the
“This high school has been
functioning from the last 60 years yet no one has ever tried to upgrade it to a
higher secondary. See the state of this school, all littered with garbage,”
said a youth in his 20s, who refused to reveal his name.
By 11:00 am, when this reporter
left the scene, 160 votes out of 667 were already polled in one of the three
polling stations set up in the school.