Nowadays I am scared to indulge in my favourite pastime while driving. Mind you I drive around four hours every day. I am very hesitant to tune it to any FM station for some nerve soothing music. It is not that suddenly music doesn’t hold my interest anymore. It is the intermittent messages declaring the people who won’t vote as Pappu that is giving me a complex. I realize I have been a Pappu all my life. Strange as it may appear but the fact remains in half a century of my life I have never voted.
But, am I really a Pappu?
Like any youngster, I still remember the day when my name appeared in the electoral rolls for the first time. It gave a strange feeling and the confidence of being an adult. I thought it also developed a parental feeling in me as my younger siblings started appearing like children who needed to be taken care of. I also remember an hour long wait in a long queue before gaining entry to the room in the Govt. Girls Primary School near my home, where the polling officers gave you the ballot paper. I also remember the disappointment and the humiliation after all this being told my vote had already been cast. That day my faith in my Muslim neighbours received a serious dent. That day my belief in the might of Indian democratic institutions also diminished. Subsequently, I chose to be a Pappu than face the humiliation. After every election, my caring neighbours would dutifully inform me that the records will show I have cast my vote.
For last nineteen years I have been living in Delhi NCR. I am a registered voter in my local constituency. I also have a voter card. The electoral officer in my erstwhile Srinagar constituency must either be obliged to my family, most unlikely, or may have taken me as Kamaal Haq, more likely. My name still appears in the electoral rolls there. I have never felt inclined to vote here. Some how and I may be wrong, I have always felt my voting here will suit my tormentors in valley and take me further away from my homeland.
Don’t be a Pappu.
It is not only the media, NGO’s and the election commission that is urging me. I am amused some of my own community men also have joined the bandwagon of ‘don’t be a Pappu.’ They want me to strengthen the very process that threw me out of my homeland. Nevertheless, I thought may be they are right. I am now prepared to pin my hopes on the democratic process for bringing me succor.
Please guide and advise me.
There are more than twenty candidates for Srinagar constituency. Nearly all of them including Autar Krishan Pandita of BJP are there just for a symbolic presence. Khalida Shah, wife of Gul Shah and sister of Farooq Abdullah is also not seen as making any significant difference.. The contest is mainly between Farooq Abdullah and Moulvi Ifftikhar Ansari of PDP.
Shall I vote for Farooq Abdullah, a founder member of JKLF and the chief patron of uprising in Kashmir, who abdicated his moral, political and constitutional responsibility towards me in my hour of need? Or shall I vote for Ansari, a perennial turncoat who represents a political party that considers me as a pariah?
I don’t mind being a Pappu.
I don’t want the people of Kashmir, the governments of J & K and India to ever believe every thing is alright with me and I have forgiven them. Either way my vote will not make any significant difference to my plight or state of affairs in this country. But as a Pappu I will always have a satisfaction of being a mirror which reflects the nation’s failures.
I can now tune in to my music station.