“We are for total freedom from India. They are comfortable with Delhi. We’ll boycott, they’ll vote,” Omar, a young student at Sambora said while illustrating the chasm between the South Kashmir’s separatist-dominated Pulwama-Shopian belt and Anantnag-Kulgam area where the pro-India parties like the Congress, the National Conference and the CPI (M) have established a strong base.
Sambora belt is mapped by the counterinsurgent grid as the as the Valley’s “Jalalabad” for being home to 15 listed militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba believed to be behind every terror strike from Shopian to Hyderpora in Srinagar.
Killing of eight soldiers in a daredevil action at Hyderpora, cardiologist Sheikh Jalal’s assassination in Pampore, a fidayeen-type strike on a hotel, killing of Sarpanch Amin Bhat at Gulzarpora and lately an attack on th NC’s youth leader Yawar Massodi’s home at Khrew are some of the actions attributed to the LeT module by Police and security forces. From Omar in Sambora to Waseem Akram in Kakapora, every youth on “boycott” insisted that the zero-turnout — at 56 polling stations — was “voluntary.” They did not want questions why the United Jihad Council called for the “boycott” if the Hurriyat Conference was already running an anti-election campaign.
DIG South Kashmir Vijay Kumar told The Hindu that “over 200 polling stations” mostly in Tral, Pampore, Pulwama, Rajpora, Shopian and Homeshalibugh were not off the mark.
Out of 83,460 just 1,121 votes were polled in Tral where three men were gunned down on Monday. With a paltry 1.34% in Tral, 6.07% in Pampore and 4.10% in Pulwama, the turnout swells as soon as one enters Kulgam. A festive Noorabad recorded 75.34% turnout, followed by 56.28% in Pahalgam, 46.33% in Kokernag, 44.42% in Dooru and 40.30% in Devsar.
“We have people who are committed to Azadi. Some people really are not interested in Parliamentary elections. Some abstained for the anti-incumbency factor. Some wanted to vote but stayed away for fear of the gun”, said one Abdul Aziz Rather at Konibal. “No, we don’t mind these threats and killings. I just voted for the PDP”, Rather’s neighbour Ghulam Mohammad, said.