The “toffee and milk” remarks of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti against the killing of youth in 2016 agitation is still haunting people in south Kashmir as they prefer to stay away from the polling booths in her home turf Anantnag parliamentary constituency.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, many people also accused PDP of betraying their trust by joining hands with the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after seeking votes to keep them at bay in 2014 assembly polls.
“How can we forget her toffee and milk remark? It is engraved on our hearts for the rest of our lives. We voted for PDP in 2014 but not anymore,” a group of youngsters outside polling station in Guree said.
In 2016, addressing a presser Mehbooba accompanied by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said, “Had they (youth killed in 2016 agitation) gone to camps and police stations to buy toffees and milk.”
Admitting that south Kashmir was PDP’s hub, the youngsters said they felt betrayed by the party after joining hands with the BJP.
“They (PDP) befooled us by assuring to vote for them to keep BJP away, but later formed the government with them,” the youngsters said. “This time we are not voting.”
In three polling stations at the Government High School in Guree, of the 2778 voters, only 21 were polled until noon.
The resentment against PDP was quite visible as well at other polling booths as very less number of voters turned up to exercise their franchise.
In Mehbooba’s hometown, Bijbhera, only 2.04 percent voter turnout was recorded.
In six polling stations at PHE division where Mehbooba also cast her vote, of the total 4343 voters only 176 people voted before the cut off time.
Many polling booths in the town wore a deserted look due to minimal participation of people.
In four polling booths at Khanbal Government Higher Secondary School, only 113 people had cast their votes of the total 3583 registered voters.
The voter turnout was even less in Dialgam polling stations.
In three polling booths at the Government Middle School of the 1903 voters, only five had cast their vote.
In every assembly segment, people were recalling Mehbooba’s “toffee and milk” remark and PDP’s decision of entering into an alliance with the saffron party.
A group of men outside Khanbal Government Higher Secondary School said people no longer vote for PDP in their area.
“The killing of Burhan Wani changed everything here. Mehbooba’s milk and toffee remark still echoes in our ears. We can’t betray our martyrs’ anymore,” they said. “Now we will vote only when there is a plebiscite.”
Even though in Dooru, Verinag, Dhamhal, and Achabal where moderate participation of voters was witnessed, people were complaining about PDP’s handling of 2016 uprising and their decision for making inroads for BJP in the Valley.
“Who brought BJP into our secretariat? Who in 2016 ridiculed our martyrs by saying if they had come out to buy toffee and milk? We remember everything,” a group of elderly men at the Government Higher Secondary School in Achabal said.
The Anatnag district, spread over six assembly constituency, recorded 13.61 percent voter turnout with Anantnag recording 3.47 percent, Dooru 17.28 percent, Kokernag 19.36 percent, Shangus 15.9 percent, Bijbhera 2.04 percent and Pahalgam 20.37 percent.