Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fishermen Colony inhabitants exercise their franchise for empowerment

As voters across the summer capital lined up to cast their vote, the scene at the Fishermen colony of Shanpora Habak was no different. Scores of men and women, mostly from the fishermen community, said that through voting, they are “trying to find the voice that has been missing for years.”

“We want empowerment,” they said. They said the long-pending issues facing the community are pestering and pushing them deeper into poverty. Fazi Begum, a fisherwoman in her 50s, said that she left her work today to ensure that she could exercise her franchise. She said the long-pending issues facing the community are taking a toll on them.

“We have been living in abject poverty for long. Being a marginalised society that earns hand-to-mouth, we are hoping to find our lost voice through this voting exercise. Scores of families in our area are associated with selling fish in the market, and on a daily basis, we face specific issues that we want to address,” she said.

Elaborating she said. “we are craving for a specific fish market, and we face routine harassment by authorities and shopkeepers where we set our stalls. Our youth are also jobless, and amid poverty, they are unable to complete education.”

She said that when these community-centric issues pop up on a daily basis, they are unable to find someone who will address them. “Now, as the voting has started, we want to choose a candidate who will address these specific issues,” she added.

Rouf Ahmad, one of the first-time voters from the fishermen community at Habak, said that they have been stuck in poverty for decades, and joblessness is at its peak.

“Even if some of us study, there are no jobs, and we continue with menial ones. We want community-specific schemes that will pull us out from this marginalization, and this is what I’m using my first-ever vote for,” Rouf said.

Raja Begum another fisherwoman, said that earlier, when the local government was in power, at least they had hopes that they would go to someone and knock on their doors.

“Now, for years, there is no representative who can speak for us in topmost forums like Parliament. Most of us here are associated with fishing practice and doing menial jobs, but unless special attention is given to our community, our fortunes won’t change,” she added.

At 11 a.m., around 200 votes were cast in the polling booth of Shanpora Habak out of 1179 registered votes. Hundreds of people were jostling outside the polling station. A community member said that despite being from a marginalised section of society, the hiked electricity bills and inflation in Gas prices have taken a toll on them. “We want leaders to address our grievances…we hope that vote can resolve our issues,” she added.


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