Tribal voters in Anantnag want basic amenities, employment

Tribal voters line up to cast votes in Daksum area of Anantnag on Saturday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
Tribal voters line up to cast votes in Daksum area of Anantnag on Saturday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Suhail Bhat

SRINAGAR, May 25: As voting concluded today for the Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary constituency, the tribal population living on the fringes of Anantnag district expressed their hopes for improved basic amenities and employment opportunities for their educated youth.

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Excelsior reporters spoke with numerous tribal voters, both young and old, who had gathered in large numbers at Polling Stations across various regions of the constituency, including Gadol, Vailoo and other areas within the Kokernag constituency, which are entirely populated by Scheduled Tribes. The voters shared a common sentiment of having been historically exploited despite their high voter turnout. This time, however, they expressed a strong desire to elect a candidate who would address their fundamental needs, such as proper roads, electricity and employment.
Qadir Chauhan, an elderly voter from the Gadol area of Kokernag, emphasized the importance of voting. “Voting is our right, whether anyone understands it or not. It empowers us to choose a candidate who can highlight our problems and work towards their resolution. The biggest issue in our area is unemployment. Our educated children are staying idle at home. If they want to work as labourers, they have to travel two or three days to find jobs outside to support their families,” he said.
Chauhan further lamented the lack of basic facilities. “There are roads, electricity, and other basic amenities here, but they are only for namesakes. The few facilities that exist benefit only a few people, and no one listens to the grievances of the poor.”
Ghulam Hasan Dar from Ishu village echoed similar concerns, noting that their road has been under construction for the past four years and remains in poor condition. “The electricity is only for namesakes, and authorities only seek fees from us. There is huge unemployment here,” he said.
“The previous candidates have not done anything. They only come here to seek votes and never visit after getting elected. Our educated youth are forced to work as labourers. We are hopeful that this time our candidates will address our issues,” Dar added.
Talib Hussain, a popular tribal leader from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), acknowledged the impressive voter turnout but highlighted the unfulfilled demands. “They have always expected their issues to be resolved. They got the first chance to vote after 2019, and the youth of these areas are particularly poor. You would see them working as labourers in Himachal Pradesh. A ray of hope has emerged here that if a tunnel (the Vailoo-Singhpora tunnel connecting Anantnag with Kishtwar) is created, it would bring employment opportunities,” he said.
Another voter, Mohammad Yaqoob Malik from Ahlan Payeen, stressed the importance of a functioning Government for regional development. “We are voting for development and to tackle unemployment. We have always come here to vote. The poor have never received anything. This time, our candidate will work for the people, as they are now more aware of their needs. The people here are poor and need basic facilities,” he said