Heavy Voter Turnout Sharpens Urban-rural Divide In Kashmir

23 November 2008
The Hindu

Ganderbal: The heavy turnout in the first two phases of elections in Jammu and Kashmir has sharpened the urban-rural divide in the Kashmir Valley with both sides blaming each other for the 'political mess' in the state. In the urban areas, people have boycotted the polls in 'response' to calls of the separatist forces and blamed the villagers for the 'ills' in their locality, while country folks in large numbers supported the mainstream political parties and voted in their favour saying the state should not be allowed to be in turmoil forever. During the second phase of elections in this newly created district on Sunday, people from rural areas of the district turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise while only committed party workers in the urban areas mustered courage to enter the polling stations and cast their votes. Yesterday's voting was almost the repeat of the first phase of polls held on November 17 in Bandipora district where large number of villagers came out to vote. 'We have come to vote ... please do not ask me the reasons but one thing is sure that we cannot continue with strikes, stone-pelting and killing of youth forever. There has to be an end to all this,' Mushtaq Ahmad, a youth from Kangan area in Ganderbal district, told PTI. Ahmad said although he was all for the boycott call of the separatists when the Amarnath Land Transfer row erupted in June this year, he changed his mind after the treatment meted out to them by the city people on July 13 at the graveyard of the 1931 martyrs. 'The martyrs of 1931 laid down their lives for an end to the aristocracy of the Maharajahs and nobody, mainstream or separatist, should be prevented from paying homage to them,' Ahmad said.