SRINAGAR: Passing through the convoluted lanes of Srinagar’s old city, 52 year old Saara Begum reaches the polling booth to cast her vote. She says she is voting for the freedom of her only son, detained earlier by the police to ensure “peaceful” polling.

Voters like Saara Begum had a reason to stand in queues outside the polling booths. “My son was detained by the police in the recent past as they (police) believe that he would hurl stones and disrupt polls. In the Parliament elections also held in May this year, he was taken into custody. I am voting for the candidate who has promised to give a secure life to my son,” Saara said.

Parents of ‘stone pelters’ were seen waiting for their turn with voting slips in their hands. “From the past six years¸ downtown Srinagar has seen shackled with regular clampdowns in which our young people have been detained, “they said. Their said their vote was for candidates who had promised to stop this practise.

On Sunday, the fourth phase of the state elections, Srinagar went for polling with the security forces guarding the link routes and sealing what they describe as “volatile” areas. Razor wires and barricades were placed in the middle of the roads to foil possible anti election activities.

Police had already taken into custody targeted stone pelters, detaining them at various police stations across Srinagar.

The Director General of Police (DGP) K Rajendra had earlier said that the ‘mischief makers’ have already been taken into custody to ensure smooth polling in Srinagar. “Where ever we had reports of the possible disruption in polls, the police have taken adequate measures to avoid law and order disruption. For smooth and peaceful polling, all measures have been taken,” Rajendra said.

In Nowhatta area of Srinagar, considered the most volatile, Abdul Rahim Sheikh dared to come out of his house to vote. For him, the vote this time was against lathi charges by the police, tear gas firing and police detentions. “Some people say voting is a futile exercise but I believe that if we continue to boycott, the scene will not change. We will continue to witness this bloodshed and mayhem that Srinagar is witnessing from the past decades,” 62 year old Sheikh said. This time he has voted for the second time. Last he had voted was in 1987 when he had supported the Muslim United Front.

Habba Kadal, on which the BJP was banking to open an account in valley, voted for everyone except the saffron party. The youth who could be seen taking part in the separatist rallies had ink marks on their fingers on Sunday. “How could we tolerate that a party like BJP could win from the place like Habba Kadal. We did our bit and voted for all other parties so that BJP could not win from here. It doesn’t matter for us whether NC or PDP wins- BJP must lose,” several young people at the polling booths told The Citizen.

Separatists have issued a stern boycott call, asking people not to undermine the ‘sacrifices rendered by the martyrs for freedom’.