RS Pura: Known as the rice bowl of Jammu region for the famed Basmati rice, the farmers of this border constituency feel voting is only way they can revive the 'basmati sector' which was badly hit by the recent floods.
Despite suffering huge losses due to the incessant rains that lashed the state in September, a large number of people, mostly farmers, came out to vote with the hope that their elected representative would help redress their problems.
"We are left with nothing as all our standing crop was damaged due to the incessant rains that lashed the state in the month of September. In addition, the administration rubbed salt to our miseries by announcing a compensation of Rs 200 per kannal of damaged crop," said, Satpal Kumar a farmer in Abdullian village, said.
Satpal said farmers in the border belt, who form a large chunk of voters in this Assembly segment, have decided to vote for a candidate who could help the farmers in the area.
"Our livelihood comes from our fields and our crops and this time we will vote for a candidate who is ready to do something for our livelihood," Kumar said.
The border dwellers say that they have been demanding a special employment package from the government that would provide alternate employment opportunities to them.
"Majority of the border dwellers here are farmers, but farming continues to remain an unorganised sector. We need a government that can organise this sector so that farmers are able to get good prices for their produce. Presently, we have no other option
but to sell our produce at throw away prices," said Vikram Mehra, a farmer in Abdullian.
The farmers rue that they are unable to make benefits out of their produce due to lack of proper marketing procedure.
"Many small farmers don't get enough money for their produce as they sell it to middlemen and it is they who make a lot of money. For the first time in the election, the candidates raised voice to help the Basmati growers here," Kulwinder Kumar, a voter, said.
Residents of the border belt who queued outside polling booths to elect their representatives in the fifth and the final phase of the J&K elections said this time their vote was for development and long-lasting peace as they were fed up of continuous ceasefire violations from across the border.
Defying bone-chilling cold and fog, voters in large numbers were seen standing outside polling booths to exercise their right to vote.
"We have suffered a lot as there has been lack of development in our villages. Cross border firing is often given as excuse by the authorities whenever we ask for roads, drains or electricity," Vimla Bhagat, a voter, said.
First-time voter Gaganjeet Singh said, "Development of our area is directly related with long-lasting peace in the region. The residents here are the worst sufferers of the hostilities between the two countries."
The voters in Abdullian village, situated within a stone throw distance from Pakistan, feel that the elections might change their fate for good.
"Our children have suffered a lot. Whenever there is firing they are forced to leave their studies midway.
"Today, we have come out to vote with the hope that a strong government gets formed so that they can help redress the problems being faced by all the border residents," Kirtan Ram, a voter, said.
There are a total of 76,614 registered voters in R S Pura Assembly segment comprising of 40,651 male and 35,959 female voters.