Saloora witnesses huge turnout in the absence of militancy

Saloora witnesses huge turnout in the absence of militancy

Saloora witnesses huge turnout in the absence of militancy

Once known for the presence of local and foreign militants, Saloora, a village in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district today made history when people in large numbers came out to vote and became a "part of the change" they wanted to see.

Voters began queueing up early in the morning outside their respective polling stations to wait for their turn to exercise their right to franchise.

Saloora was traditionally known for boycotting the voting process due to presence the militants. The village that has a huge population of Jamaat-e-Islami supporters used to witness low turn-out due to militant's threats against those who went against their diktat of poll boycott.

However, now that the presence of militants in the area has diminished, people have come out of the fear and participated in the poll process.

Three polling booths at the Girls Higher secondary School witnessed negligible voter turn-out in the last assembly election in 2008 and the parliamentary polls in 2009 and this year.

But, this time people came out in large numbers and the polling stations saw brisk voting since early morning.

Serpentine queues were seen outside the polling booths with a good number of female voters waiting for their turn.

"This is the first time that I am voting and it feels good," said a young voter Sumaiya.
"The people of Ganderbal have been exploited by the politicians so far. We have come out to vote for a change. We want Ganderbal to get rid of the politicians who have done nothing so far for the people," she said.

Though the main battle in Ganderbal is between National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), an independent candidate Sheikh Ghulam Ahmad Saloori has made the electoral battle interesting.

Saloori, who belongs to Saloora and deserted NC early this year, enjoys tremendous influence in some pockets of the constituency especially Saloora.

And to make their "own candidate successful", the people in Saloora defied the boycott call and came out to vote.

"We have come out to vote and support our own candidate. We have seen how those who represented this constituency before have failed to do anything for Ganderbal. They used to take us for granted, but not anymore. We won't be fooled anymore now," Junaid Ahmad said.

Ahmad said Saloori was a local and over the years had shown that he could deliver.
At the three polling booths in the area, 851 out of a total of 2,580 voters had cast their votes till 1 pm, and many were still lined up and waiting for their turn.

At 39-Saloora C booth, 358 votes -- 188 by men and 160 by women -- were cast; 390, with 195 each males and females, were polled in 37-Saloora B.

The third polling booth, 38-Saloora B lagged behind, particularly because of the majority of Jamaat-e-Islami supporters residing there. It had polled 113 votes.

There were some incidents of violence, and people were seen discussing the process outside the polling stations – a scene never experienced before in this part of Ganderbal.