First polling without shelling from PoK since 1957

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Line of Control (Teetwal), Nov 30 (UNI) It was a dream come true for about 1000 voters of at least a dozen villages on zero-line, who cast their ballots in the polling stations set-up within their respective villages.

''This is for the first time we are casting votes in the booths set up in our villages,'' said the residents of Jabdi, Semori and Khadu.

They said, ''In previous elections we have to walk several kms to cast the votes in Karnah Assembly constituency.'' ''Since our villages are on zero-line we are under the direct target of Pakistan army who are, at some places just 100 metres away from us,'' they said, adding that authorities were not taking any chance and polling station for the voters of about dozen villages were set up in safe zones.

Abdul Samad, a 70-year-old farmer said he has voted in almost all elections held in the state. ''But this is for the first time we voted in our own village,''he said.

''The villages were being targeted by the Pak troops,'' he added.

However, due to 2003 ceasefire between India and Pakistan, the shelling had stopped.

''Almost every family living in the villages on Zero-Line have relations on other side of the Line of Control (LoC),'' he said.

Mr Samad said there was no impact of any boycott call given by the Coordination Committee (CC), spearheading the anti-poll campaign.

Infact, he said, when the entire Kashmir valley was protesting on Amarnath land row, there was total normalcy in these villages.

He said, ''During 2002 Assembly elections and parliament elections, no polling station was set up in the villages on zero- line.

A police official told UNI that a number of election rallies were held here and people across the border were listening to speeches of candidates.

''People are very innocent and there was less number of crime,'' he said.

UNI BAS YSS AE BD1850

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