Gulzarpora: Empowered by the democratic right to vote, the people of this village in south Kashmir's Pulwama Assembly constituency have new hopes of rebuilding their lives after the September floods devastated the hamlet when almost 90 percent of the residential houses here were damaged and rehabilitation was nowhere in sight.
The deluge that Kashmir Valley went through left the villages of Gulzarpora, Beighpora, Bona Puchal, Gulbugh, Malangpora, Gulbugh, Hanjipora in Pulwama constituency devastated.
Out of the 350 villages in Pulwama district, 145 were affected by the floods and 88 were submerged by the ravaging flood waters. As per the official estimates, 4,164 houses were completely damaged and 15,353 houses suffered partial damage.
The floods left hundreds of the families homeless and they were either living under open sky or shared space with their relatives and neighbours.
Most of the residents here accuse the politicians whether from the ruling party or the opposition ? of abandoning them during floods and failing in providing any relief.
However, the people feel that elections have provided them with the opportunity to reconstruct their lives.
"Our family saw no help from the government or from the opposition party. They ignored us, but now we feel that we have the opportunity to make our lives better," Firdous Ahmad (23) said.
Ahmad said the people now hope that the new government will provide them sufficient compensation and relief so they could start their life afresh.
"We did not even see our MLA. He was sleeping somewhere. He failed in his duties to provide us any relief. Why should we vote for him?" he asked.
Another voter, Nisar Ahmad said they saw a ray of hope in a new candidate fielded by a particular party.
"My house and agricultural land were both hit by floods. The MLA did nothing to help us even months after floods. A candidate recently provided us some blankets and bedding. He has promised more after being elected. So I have my hopes pinned on him," he said.
Contrary to Ahmad's and Nisar's belief that a vote can change the fortunes of the village, many people in the area stayed away from the exercise, saying "nothing will change on ground".
"Why will I vote when neither the PDP MLA nor the NC MP came to visit me I still put up with my neighbour. Voting will change nothing," Shabir Ahmad Wani (37) lamented.