Ullal Kodi had threatened to boycott polls over arrests of more than 60 persons

The calls for boycotting the elections fell limp as good to high-turnouts were recorded in the areas that had threatened to stay away if their demands had not been met.

Ullal Kodi had threatened boycott over “discrimination” and “unnecessary” arrests of more than 60 persons in connection with the communal violence that broke out in February.

Though organisations in the community had withdrawn the call after assurances from political leaders, a few people had gathered in Kodi Circle refusing to vote Thursday morning.

“Around 10 persons were sitting by the bus stand refusing to vote. They were not convinced with the assurances of the political leaders. But the residents talked to them, and eventually, we convinced them to cast their vote,” said Zameer Ahmed, a resident.

Slow polling

Though the polling was slow in Kodi — around 29 per cent at noon — it picked up later on as more people reposed faith in the assurances. Among those voting was Abdul Shameer, a painter who was arrested after the violence.

“A total of 33 of us were in Bellary Jail for nearly 20 days. I’m a daily-wage earner and the arrest put my family’s finances under stress. Politicians have assured us that our cases will be looked at,” he said.

Ahmed Basheer, a resident, said if the promises were not met, they would “intensify” their protests.

“The elections are a way of raising our protest and our voice. This does not mean we have given up our demands though,” he said.

Other places

In Panambur, residents living close to the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) had called for boycotting the elections after numerous complaints against the “dust spewed” from coal bearing trucks in the area had fallen on deaf ears.

However, Shivaram Panambur, a resident, said they changed their minds after Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Thulasi Maddineni assured them of a solution after the election.

“As she had made the announcement in the media (during a live phone-in programme in a local channel), we believe she will keep her commitment. We have decided to participate in the electoral process, but residents have been told to opt for NOTA (None Of The Above),” he said.

He estimated nearly 200 residents participated in the elections after the withdrawal of the boycott call, and “most” of them had opted for NOTA.

Similarly, Ms. Maddineni’s assurance of electricity to Kalleri village in Belthangady taluk saw the boycott there being withdrawn, while residents of Kumbalapadavu near Mudipu — who had “suggested” a boycott for their demand against the “excessive” drawing of groundwater by Infosys — turned out in large numbers for the elections after local political representative assured of a solution to the issue.

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