Youth in poll boycott areas vote for change

Militant’s brother casts vote, asks others to do so

Irfan Tramboo
BARAMULLA, May 20: The youth across the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency today said that they voted for change and to get their day-to-day issues resolved, especially unemployment, which they said has taken a toll on them.

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Throughout the day, Excelsior spoke with a number of young voters, some of them first-time voters, across the constituency, and almost everyone spoke about the need for change and being able to live a better life.
“There are a number of issues we face on a daily basis, and there is nobody we can talk to, to let them know our issues and get them addressed. Now we are out to elect someone who will speak for us and bring about the change that is needed,” said Yasir Ahmad, 25, from Budgam district.
While the voters stressed the need for change, a first-time voter, Mudasir Ali Sofi, 20, a computer science student from Magam, noted the importance and power of a vote, highlighting that he wants someone deserving to be elected to speak for the people.
“I am happy to cast my vote today. I want to elect a candidate who reaches the Parliament and speaks for the people, raising their issues. We want an end to unemployment. J&K has the highest rate of unemployment. Youth should elect the right person and ensure that their vote is not wasted because it matters the most,” he said.
At two different places on the Srinagar-Baramulla National Highway, Palhallan and Singhpora, which are usually known for a total poll boycott, the scenes were quite different on the polling day for the fifth phase of the general elections.
There, the youth, who had assembled at a Polling Station, said that they were out to vote in order to get rid of the cases registered against them. They also stressed the need for change and being able to lead a free life.
“We never voted before, but today we did. We want to get rid of the FIRs the youth are facing; they are in the hundreds. Today, our vote is for development and the much-needed change. Now that we have given our vote, we want our issues to be resolved,” said an emotionally charged young voter, Salman Khan, 26, from Singhpora.
Another voter standing in a queue at a Polling Station in Singhpora, Gulzar Ahmad Naikoo, stressed: “The youth want to live easy lives. They have issues and want them addressed, but no one listens to them. They want jobs and to live freely. The youth are voting for a better candidate to speak for them because after Article 370, the vote is the only weapon we have now.”
In Sopore, the eyes caught the sight of another young voter-brother of a top militant, Bilal Ahmad-who identified himself as Dawood.
He was waiting in a queue to cast his vote and during the conversation with Excelsior, he emphasized the need for coming out to vote and also put forth some of his demands.
“I appeal to the people to come out and cast their vote because it is for development. Two of my brothers are in jail; I appeal to the Government to release them, while we are trying to make Bilal surrender because that will be in his favor,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the Qazipora area of Tangmarg, another first-timer, Riyaz Ahmad Mir, spoke about listening to his heart and voting for the right candidate. He also stressed that those who were elected before were only after power.
“I have voted for the first time. I listened to the voice of my heart. I have given my vote to a person who has sacrificed for the people of J&K. I am hopeful that he will resolve the issues faced by the people. Others did not talk the way they should have; they have been under pressure and did not talk about issues openly. They secured their places and did nothing for the people,” he said.