Srinagar Cool To Polls, It's Rural People Who Vote In Kashmir

20 April 2014
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

Srinagar: While poll fever has gripped the rest of the country, Kashmir, particularly then urban centres, including Srinagar, remains indifferent. Barring some rallies over the past few weeks, Srinagar has seen no poll activity. While the valley is engulfed in the colours of spring, the poll colours are missing. Hardly any posters or hoardings are visible, barring one of AAP in an obscure corner of Srinagar and a Congress hoarding in Budgam. Omar Abdullah, the state chief minster's hoarding, extending support to the youth, is strikingly visible in city centre Lal Chowk, but it's been there for a long time now. 'People would rather discuss the seasonal rainfall or the extended winter this year. The IPL is more discussed than the elections,' said Srinagar barber Mohammed Sharief. Political analysts point out that this is always the case in Kashmir. 'The urban and semi-urban population doesn't vote. The rural areas do. Even people in rural areas most affected by militancy like Kupwara and Handwara in North Kashmir, go to vote,' said Srinagar-based political scientist Gul Wani. But even in urban areas, there are a few who do vote in Lok Sabha elections. Srinagar shopkeeper Mohammed Ramzan, who was among the 25% people in the city to vote in 2009, said, 'I have always voted. And we should understand that Srinagar is suffering because of this (indifference). Look at the rural areas. The roads are better and they have better facilities. What do we have?'