HAJIN: Tuesday 25th November, 2014, this is north-Kashmir, Hajin; It is dawn and time for the morning prayers. But this is not a normal day, it is evident; I am terrified as I go out. .The streets are deserted, the oven- bap shopkeepers have not pulled up their shutters yet. The shops I am heading for do not fall in the lane, but are located on the main-market of Hajin.

I am called by someone, I turn to look back but the street is deserted. Who is calling me? I start to walk when again the voice, louder this time, shouts, ' Ove idar aav' (O, come here) . Now I see him, and as I walk in his direction I see at least ten more, all with AK-47 rifles on their shoulders.

I am suddenly no longer scared. I am used to this. The soldiers shout out some questions, then ask me for identity proof. Thoughts flash through my mind: I reside here, I am Kashmiri, so why does he ask me about my identity proof? He is the outsider. Does he think Kashmiris are feeble? Does he think he can humiliate us to any extent? Why does the man in uniform talk to me like this? If he is here to safeguard the citizens then his tone should be polite, not aggressive? I am not a slave. I am not a coolie. I am a law abiding person. I haven't breached any law. I am just going to get some oven-bap for my mom who is waiting for me at home.

I hunt for my wallet, luckily, I haven't forgotten it at home. If I had the soldier would have slapped and abused me, perhaps even arrested me. He lets me go finally.

It is now 8:00 am, voting has begun. I leave my home to ascertain the situation. The masses of Hajin have shown their steadfastness by boycotting the parliamentary elections, will they repeat the same?

I see a large group of women folk strolling to the polling booth for casting their votes. There are queues outside the polling stations. I walk down and see people of different ages men, women, and youth in the queues waiting to cast their votes. I meet a person who has just had his finger inked. I question him, why have you cast your vote? He says, 'I did cast my vote, because I can't forget that dreadful night, when the men in uniform barged into our houses and tried to abduct our daughters in the parliamentary elections. I cast my vote so that I can save the chastity, virginity, and modesty of my daughters and sisters, I can never forget that night.'

I meet a person who has also come after casting vote and says to me, 'we the people of Hajin reside in the Palaeolithic- age, what has Akbar Lone done during his tenure to your locality, here we don't have, Sadak, Pani , Bijli (road, water and light) and other essential things which are required for living'. He further says that he feels ashamed to invite his friend to his home as his locality lacks basic necessities.

I get an opportunity to meet a group of women who had cast their votes. They tell me that they are pro- resistance at their heart but need some relief. 'We travel three kilometres daily by foot for getting water, we don't have light here, we don't have roads, see the garbage, we travel and bring water on our heads' they said. They have voted for development.

They all say they are for freedom. And yet they cast their vote. I do not know who or what we are any longer.