Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dooru votes for Geelani- stays away from polls.


In Dooru village, there are no queues scaled outside the polling station, no buzz of the earlier phases is repeated. There are no election posters pasted on the walls, nor any banners hanging over the dusty streets. Men huddle outside shops, women gaze through windows and children run around with their faces flushed and eyes wet by the tear smoke only to see if someone today betrays ‘the sentiment’ or ‘the leader’ here. In this village in Sopore, where defiant Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani was born, no one even walked past the polling station today.


And at a time when Kashmir defied the separatist poll boycott, Dooru did not let down Geelani.  “We don’t want any roads, any jobs or any benefits. We only want Freedom,” says Sayeed Naseer, a 36 year old businessman. “The occupational force always tries to lure the victim with these luxuries but we will not succumb to them and forget our slain brothers.”

Pitched battles were fought all through the day between security forces and people. Four persons had been injured in the tear smoke shelling and baton charge by the forces. Youngsters carried stones in their hands fuming with anger over the high voter turnout in the neighboring village Dangarpora- the native village of Congress candidate Abdul Rashid Dar who won the 2002 polls from here.

“They have betrayed our cause, our dead, and our graveyards but we will never forget what we have suffered” says Naseer.

Naseer surrounded a dozen men gets up from a shop pavement ridiculing the election process and speaks in support of the boycott. His accent is slightly familiar, his words somewhat heard. Bilal Hassan, an engineering student, talks about graveyards and independence, properly punctuating the sentence. Even he talks in the same way. In Geelani’s village every one talks like him, uses the same set of words he has used over the past two decades, and even the Quranic references are from the same pages. Here, Geelani is followed and revered in style and ideology but the people are quick to add that that they do not chase Geelani. “Geelani comes second, first comes the sentiment for Azaadi. We support boycott because we believe in Tehreek (movement)” says Hassan.   

The 79 year old Hurriyat leader had once contested and won elections from Sopore before the armed rebellion started across the valley. But today, he is the fiercest opponent of elections are so are the people from his native village.  “We will now only vote under United Nation (UN) observers, not till then. We will decide our future by siding with independence, not petty candidates,” says Abdul Rashid Rishi, a college student. “Why is India afraid to do that if it is so sure that Kashmiris want to be with it? Let us vote freely, and then see what we vote for”.

Inside the polling booth, the presiding officer looks bored. “No one came to vote, nor do we expect anyone,” says the official. Outside, the people were getting ready, forming small groups to attack the security forces from different sides.


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