Kandhamal, (Orissa): Kandhamal, the Orissa district that was hit by anti-Christian violence last year, showed its faith in the democratic system with a massive voter turnout on the first phase polling on Thursday.
Ninety per cent of those living in refugee camps came to vote, 50 per cent all over the district.
Voters said, "Dar ke bawajood hum sab vote karne aaye... jo candidate hamare liye kaam karega, usko vote denge...jo yeh situation hai, jo uske liye kaam karega, usko vote denge" (In spite of dangers, we are here to vote. We will vote the person who will work for our upliftment.)
Six months after riots turned them into refugees in their own land, the Christians of Kandhamal turned up in huge numbers to vote. Defying all predictions of low polling and their own reluctance.
Kandhamal riot victim Manoj Naik said, hum ne pehle kaha tha ki hum vote nahi denge...lekin humne diya...kyunki hum vote nahi denge to BJP jeetega (earlier we had said we would not vote, but we decided to vote because if we didn’t, the BJP could win.)
Much of the credit for this turnaround goes to the district administration which went on a security overdrive to ensure a safe election. 72 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed across the state, 22 companies in Kandhamal alone.
Collector, Kandhamal Krishna Kumar feels that it’s a victory of democracy
More than 3000 refugees are still living in five relief camps and the EC organised special transport for them to be taken to the polling booth.
Another Kandhamal riot victim Sanjeev said, voting to acha ho raha hai...man se dar chala gaya hai...voting to khud ka adhikar hai...tabhi to log aise aakar voting kar rahen hain (The voting turnout looks good. It is our democratic right.)
The district administration had declared 170 habitas as vulnerable and naxal affected, but in spite of that, people turned out in large numbers to vote...showing once again a victory of democracy.