Troops on duty wonder at Kashmir and themselves

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ISLAMABAD, Apr 10: Personnel of Indian paramilitary forces, especially brought from India to guard polling booths in Indian occupied Kashmir, were bemused by the public boycott of the sham parliamentary by-elections in Srinagar, Badgam and Gandarbal districts.

According to KMS, inside most of the booths, the troops were making enquiries as to the reason behind the boycott. CRPF man said he had served in the Valley for three years, from 2003 to 2007. In those days, the forces faced only militants’ attack, he said.

“The situation has changed now. Ye patthar-baazi nahi thi (this stone-pelting wasn’t there),” he said. His colleague from the SSB told him that when people were demanding statehood for Telangana, there had been killings as well.

“We fought resolutely, only then we won the state. To gain something, one has to lose something,” said the soldier from Telangana with a wry smile.

Another trooper posted at Beerwah said, “We have no idea why people are against us.” He was guarding the polling station at Beerwah Girls Higher Secondary School, which was vacated after protests and stone-pelting by local youths. “We have never experienced such stone-pelting,” said the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) trooper who had come all the way from Jalandhar in Punjab. “Since the day we landed here, we are being stoned. In the morning we were stoned, in the evening we were stoned,” he said.

Along with his other colleagues, he said that politicians were not properly addressing the Kashmir issue. “We cannot do anything. We are just doing our duty. All this mess has been created by politicians,” the men said. Referring to the stone throwing, one of the ITBP troopers said that he had given 20 rupees to a six-year-old to buy biscuits for him.

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