First Assembly polls without Pak shelling

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Line of Control (Gurez), Nov 17 (UNI) Thanks to ceasefire between the troops of India and Pakistan, people of Dawar in Gurez Assembly constituency cast their votes without any fear of being hit by Pakistani shelling for the first time during the past six decades.

People, mostly women, standing in long queues outside a polling station set up in Government Higher Secondary Institute, Dawar, said after the ceasefire in 2003 things remained by and large normal.

A hotel, just outside the school, was hit by a Pakistani shell, killing the hotel owner on the spot before the ceasefire, said one Nazir Ahmad.

He said the village was under direct target of Pakistani troops, who used to fire mortars and other shells without any provocation before the ceasefire.

Majority of villagers had migrated to Bandipora and other safer places because of Pak shelling, he said adding now things have improved and those migrated have returned.

Villagers said there were some villages which were just one km or less away from the Line of Control (LoC), who were the worst hit by the Pak shelling. Now they too were living a peaceful and fearless life, said one Abdul Rashid.

This is for the first time we are casting our votes in the polling station.''he said.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Mohammad Yousuf Shah told UNI that situation in the entire belt was peaceful and people came to vote fearlessly.

He said the contesting parties held rallies without any incident.

Nazir Ahmad Gurazi, contesting on National Conference from the Gurez constituency, said he was satisfied with the overall poll arrangments.

However, he said due to snowfall, people from hilly areas would find it difficult to come down and vote.

'' We fear the voting percentage will be low this time because of weather,'' he said.

The Returning Officer told UNI that out of 1181 voters, 585 were women.

About 500 voters had been polled till 1300 hours, he said.

A 90-year-old Mohammad Dawar Mir along with his wife had come all the way from his house, covering three km on foot, to cast vote.

''I have been participating in all elections since freedom in 1947,'' he said.

Ghulam Rasool said during Amarnath Shrine land row, hartal was also observed in the village for few days. However, he said, there was no impact of poll boycott call or separatist movement in the village.

He said the village, which was just a few hours drive from Bandipora, remained cut off from the rest of the state in winter due to closure of Razdan top.

UNI BAS JT RK1835

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