Border Dwellers Turn Out In Large Numbers To Vote Against Terror

17 April 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arteev Sharma

Ladwal: Despite the recent terror attacks in Samba and Kathua districts, unprecedented enthusiasm was today witnessed among voters staying close to the Indo-Pak border as they turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise against cross-border terrorism. Since early morning, all polling stations in border villages in the Hiranagar and Kathua areas had long queues of voters, including the elderly, first-time voters and ex-servicemen. 'Whenever Assembly and parliamentary elections have been held in the state, I have always cast my vote. This could be my last vote and I didn't want to waste my vote,' said 103-year-old Masu Ram at the polling station in Government Higher Secondary School in Hiranagar. He was probably the oldest voter of the Kathua-Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha segment. Ashwani Kumar, 55, an ex-serviceman at a polling station in Ladwal, just 500 metres from the Indo-Pak border said, 'Every voter in this long queue is a soldier and we are casting our votes in favour of a strong government which has the capability of taking some tough decisions to end cross-border terrorism.' Accompanied by a family member, 89-year-old Om Prakash, who had come to cast his vote at a polling station in Government High School, Khanpur, said: 'My children were telling me not to vote as the elections in the past have not brought any significant change in our lives. Yet, I decided to vote and will continue to do so till the end.' Nisha, one of the 64,030 new voters in the constituency, was quite elated to be the part of the election process. She said, 'The border people are living under the constant fear of terror attacks and bullets from across the border. Nobody wants to leave homes during firing by Pakistan, which it often resorts to in our areas. My vote is against that firing and terrorism. I wish to have a strong government in the Centre.' Security agencies had made elaborate arrangements to ensure peaceful and incident-free voting at all polling stations, especially in the border belts of Kathua district. Ten persons, including a Lt Colonel, three soldiers and four policemen, were killed in twin terror attacks in Hiranagar and Samba on September 26 last year after three fidayeens had struck a police station and an Army camp. In another attack on March 28, three heavily armed Pakistani militants in fatigues had killed two civilians and a soldier in Kathua district.