Once boycott hub, Sopore votes for development, records 44.36% polling

Once boycott hub, Sopore votes for development, records 44.36% polling

We want to remove ‘militancy hub’ stigma, will fight with ballot to free our jailed youth, say residents

Sopore, May 20: With the conclusion of the fifth phase of polling in north Kashmir, once the spotlight of militancy, Sopore, especially the Brath village, witnessed a historic shift as residents came out to cast their votes for development, recording 44.36 percent voter turnout.

Residents expressed their desire to shed the “Red Zone” tag associated with militancy, saying they wish to be treated as normal citizens.

Speaking with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), locals at the polling booth in Brath said they are determined to remove the inequality they have faced for years and bring progress and change to the region. “We want to shed the militancy tag that has overshadowed our potential,” they said.

Faisal Abdullah, a local resident, said, “We are here to cast our votes for change and development. We want better roads, schools, and hospitals. This is our right, and we are determined to achieve it.”

Mohammad Sultan Mir said it is important to vote, saying that in the past, their failure to vote had led to various issues. “We have numerous youth languishing in jails. By voting, we will fight for them. This ballot is going to change the situation for them,” he said.

Similarly, an elderly, Abdul Razaq who spoke to the correspondent said that he voted just to remove the stigma of the “Red Zone”, due to militancy which has always taken them for a ride and always been struggling.

“It’s not just our Brath village; every village has been affected by militancy, but we have been unfairly targeted. Our roads and basic facilities are lacking. Why are we singled out as the ‘Red Zone’?” he questioned.

Mohammad Ramzan Beigh, a resident of Khushal Colony Sopore, said he voted to change the scenario which is taking a heavy toll on youth. “Casting a vote is our democratic right, and it is crucial to exercise this right for the greater cause,” he stated.

Altaf Ahmed, a voter, said, “Until and unless we won’t vote, nothing is going to change. Earlier people were being allegedly forced to cast their votes in Sopore; however, it is for the first time they are in polling stations to cast their votes, for a greater cause — which is the change in the overall environment.”

“We left our homes early to cast our votes. We have suffered a lot, and to end this suffering, we want better representation through our votes. We haven’t experienced happiness in years. Our young ones are in jail, and the graves bear witness to our struggles,” remarked Mohammad Afzal, another resident.

While acknowledging their role in past events, residents also placed responsibility on leaders for the current situation. “We have realised now what would be right and wrong for us,” Afzal added.

Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency went to polls on Monday, with 22 candidates, including Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Sajad Gani Lone of the Peoples Conference, Mir Fayaz Ahmed of the Peoples Democratic Party, and Er Rasheed of the Awami Ittehad Party (AIP), among others. The highest voter turnout in the last three decades of polling history in the Baramulla seat was 61.09 percent in the 1984 general elections, while in the 1996 elections, the turnout for Baramulla was 46.65 percent—(KNO)

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