Guru hanging, murder of Asiya and Neelofar prime reasons for staying away from polls

Guru hanging, murder of Asiya and Neelofar prime reasons for staying away from polls

Adil Lateef

Pulwama: People who boycotted the elections in south Kashmir cited hanging of parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru and alleged rape and murder of Asiya and Neelofar in 2009 as the primary reasons for staying away from “sham” polls.

While Asiya and her sister in law Nilofar were allegedly raped and murdered in Shopian district, Guru was hanged on April 9, 2013, in Tihar prison for his alleged role in parliament attack.

Majority of polling booths were deserted in Pulwama district with election staff napping and government forces keeping close vigil on nearby localities.

“If they could return us Afzal Guru, Asiya and Neelofar back, I will definitely vote. But they won’t. They are tyrants. So, it is futile to vote for them,” a middle-aged woman told GNS in Aarihal village of Pulwama. While another youth, who returned after clashing with government forces in the village endorsed her by saying: “They are the ones who hanged Afzal Guru. We will never vote. Boycott is the only solution.”

In Below Durgand, a group of youths were watching voters who were returning from polling booth. While mocking them, a youth said: “They are traitors. They forgot Asiya and Neelofar. They forgot Muhammad Afzal Guru.”

When asked why they were boycotting elections, all of them said in a single voice: “We won’t participate in sham polls. We won’t betray martyrs. We want Azadi, not voting.”

Apart from Guru’s execution and ‘double rape’ of Asiya and Neelofar, those who boycotted polls, said that they are adhering to the call of pro-freedom leaders. Others raked up 2010 killings of around 130 people mostly teenagers in forces firing.

In Tahab, soon after clashes in the morning, youth were regrouping outside two polling booths. There was huge deployment of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police’s Special Operation Group (SOG). The polling booths were deserted with troopers guarding it.

Talking to GNS, they said: “Voting will not benefit us in anyway. We don’t want to vote. We don’t want to sell sacrifices by voting. We don’t accept Indian constitution. If we are butchered or killed we will still not vote. We want complete freedom from India.”

Minutes later, they were chased away by forces triggering clashes which continued for nearly thirty minutes.

A vegetable seller in main town Pulwama, who had not cast his vote, had other reasons for boycott. “We have never seen these politicians. They did nothing for us. So, why to vote?” he asked. (GNS)

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