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In polarised Godhra, brisk voting on both sides
Amberish K Diwanji in Godhra |
December 12, 2002 14:44 IST
In Godhra city, infamous as the place where 59 people were burnt alive in a train coach on February 27 igniting communal riots in Gujarat, voters were turning up in large numbers to cast their vote on Thursday afternoon.
More than halfway through the election day, the city was peaceful, and the only incident that occurred was when some miscreants threw stones at correspondents of two television channels. No one was injured.
At Signal Falia, the area where the S-6 coach of Sabaramati Express was set afire, long queues were visible outside the polling booth, with voters, in separate queues for men and women, waited their turn.
At the FCI Godown booth in Singal Falia, the election officers permitted women to vote first. While a man outside spoke sinisterly about the possibility of trouble breaking out later and hence the urgency to send the women home early, the reason was less dramatic: the women had to go home to cook.
Most of the voters in this area are Muslims and, assured Mehboob Bakkar, everyone present would vote. Muslim community leaders were sparing no effort to ensure that every registered voter cast his vote.
Not to be outdone, in the terribly polarised atmosphere of central Gujarat, where Hindus and Muslims occupy different worlds, Bharatiya Janata Party workers were ensuring that every Hindu cast his vote. In the Hindu dominated area, called Panchayat Subdivision, huge crowds could be seen outside polling booths.
In the morning, driving through the constituencies of Halol and Kalol -- both cities saw much bloodshed during the riots -- one could see long queues outside polling booths.
In Kalol, the Muslim dominated area is just outside the police headquarters, and the crowds here were huge. Muslim men and women were present in strength to vote. A few kilometers away, in a HIndu dominated area, Hindus too were turning up to vote while complaining to the visiting election observer that fake ballots were being cast by Muslims.
As the election observer walked out of a polling booth, a huge saffron poster showing a smiling Modi caught his eye. He asked the sector observer to pull the poster down immediately.
The sector officer asked BJP workers to do the needful, which they did after extracting a promise from him that he would look into complaints of some voters being turned away for lack of appropriate documents.