Growth deficit may force Shopian to boycott polls

Growth deficit may force Shopian to boycott polls

Poor condition of roads and bridges, lack of proper healthcare facilities, educational infrastructure, safe drinking water facility and rising unemployment are some of the issues which may force a majority of people in this apple-rich south Kashmir town to boycott elections this time.

The residents of the historical town, 52 km from Srinagar, complained that they suffer for want of basic amenities at a time when the world has taken a quantum leap in socio-economic development, infrastructure building and technology.

“We have been ignored by successive governments on developmental front and especially in the last five years, the National Conference-led regime has been punishing the people of Shopian for raising voices against the injustices carried by security forces from time to time,” Iqbal Ahmad Mir, a college student told Deccan Herald.

He said that right from May 2009 when Asiya and Nelofar were allegedly gang-raped and then murdered, the government’s approach towards people of Shopian has been biased. “Whole area observed strike against the gruesome incident for months together. But isn’t observing strike a democratic right,” he asked.

His views were echoed by Farooq Ahmad Wani, a fruit businessman. “The government has failed to upgrade the fruit market in the Arhama village of Shopian district. At the time of its construction authorities had promised to make the market into a satellite one, which would be equipped with facilities like parking space for hundreds of trucks, office for traders, residential quarters for workers, banking facility and accommodation for outside businessmen among others,” he said.
However, Wani said, promises have fallen flat as nothing in the market has been upgraded.
Asked what the reasons for this neglect are, he said, “In the last five years several incidents happened in Shopian which were followed by massive protests by the people. Last year when Zubin Mehta show was going on in Srinagar, security forces killed four youth without any reason. Yes it is true people here protest against the atrocities, but that is our democratic right,” he added.

Wani said though he had voted in last elections, this time he along with several of his friends have decided to boycott the polling to show their resentment against the political parties.

Mohammad Amin Mir, president of the Apple Growers and Dealers Association, Shopian said fruit market in the area could have grown into a job industry for hundreds of local youth, “but the official negligence hinders the process.

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