Uri: The daring militant attack on an Army camp here last Friday shook the people of this town, situated close to Line of Control in Kashmir, but it did not deter them from exercising their franchise as voters thronged the polling station this morning.
Hundreds of voters were standing long queues outside the polling station at Mohra, located barely a kilometre away from the army camp that witnessed a bloody encounter on December 5, leaving 11 security forces personnel and the six assailants dead.
"We were shocked that a militant attack has taken place in our village or for that matter anywhere in Uri town. This has been a peaceful area and largely unaffected by militancy," Tahir Iqbal, a resident of Mohra, told PTI.
However, there was no reason not to cast vote as people had very high stakes in the democratic process, he said.
"Whatever might have been the reason for the militants to strike in Mohra, we cannot forego our right. This area is faced with huge problems and we want accountability from our representatives," he added.
Enthusiasm among voters was evident as within three hours of polling, nearly 200 votes were cast at the polling station located in a government middle school nestled in the mountains.
A village elder, Abdul Rahim, said the biggest problem faced by people of Mohra and Uri constituency in general, was unemployment.
"Thousands of educated youth are unemployed. Nothing has been done to address this issue over the past two decades," he said.
Another local resident Ghulam Mohammad Mir said the
successive governments in the state had a wonderful opportunity to create employment avenue for locals if they had revived the Mohra power project, which is listed as the second oldest hydel power project in the world.
"The project was shut down in 1992. Instead of investing in new projects, the government could have revived this project which had capacity to generate 9MW electricity," Mir said.
Some local residents said the government should auction the huge quantity of timber that was used in the Mohra power project started before independence.
"The auction of timber will fetch crores, which can be used for development of the area,. Why have they left it to rot?" asked Abdul Rashid Tantray.
The residents of Uri constituency, which is mostly mountainous and rugged terrain, face a lot of hardships daily and a militant attack was unlikely to shake their confidence in democracy.
Of the thousand-odd voters enlisted at the Mohra polling station, most of them had to walk a distance of two kilometers through the hills with transport facility not available even on normal days.