People forced to stay away from booths fearing social boycott

People forced to stay away from booths fearing social boycott

People forced to stay away from booths fearing social boycott

 Shahnawaz Hussain, 22, was one among dozens of youth in this militancy-infested north Kashmir town, who was willing to cast his vote for his favourite candidate but the fear of social boycott forced them to stay away from polling.

Hussain, alongwith several others, were roaming outside Muslim Education Trust (MET) School here, where atleast 11 polling booths had been stationed at a single place for security reasons.

“I am willing to cast vote to choose a better leader for good governance, but fear of social boycott attached with the voting refrained me from casting vote,” Hussain told Deccan Herald.

Showing his voter-slip and identity-card, he said, “The way society deals with those who vote in Sopore stops me from exercising my democratic right,” he said.
Jaffar Ahmad, another youth who wanted to cast his vote said, “We had decided not to boycott elections this time to defeat those politicians, who have exploited us since decades, and failed to come up with youth friendly policies in the state. But fear of social boycott stopped us,” he said.

The ink-mark on voter’s finger and conjunction of dozens of polling booths at one place was one of the main reason which forced those who wanted to vote despite boycott calls by separatists and militants threats.

“We don’t like to have an ink-mark on our fingers, because we will be treated as collaborators in the society,” said Sheikh Bashir. “The decision of authorities to club dozen polling stations at one place is wrong as it kept away people from coming here.”
In neighbouring Singhpora village, some Sikh youth echoed the same view for staying away from polls despite their willingness.

“We would have loved to vote to choose leader of our choice, but we preferred not to go against the aspirations of majority community,” they told Deccan Herald.

Sukbir Singh, a businessman said they don’t want to annoy the majority community by voting. “We have to live with them. They (majority community) stayed away from polls, so did we,” he added.