People in Meghalaya’s village to cross river on foot to vote

By Shailesh Yadav As the nation gears up for voting in the first phase of Lok Sabha election, the journey to the polling booth is a challenging feat in itself in the remote villages of Meghalaya.

Located 40 kilometres away from Baghmara Headquarters in the South Garo Hills District, the Nengsra polling station awaits the arrival of voters from six villages. However, what sets this polling station apart is the arduous trek voters undertake, crossing the river on foot to exercise their democratic rights. Today, polling officials made the journey to Nengsra, navigating the waters of the Rongdi-anchenggre River with EVMs in hand and polling materials on their shoulders. Nengsra village comprises a total of 45 households, with a voter population of 150 individuals.

With a total of 639 voters from six villages expected to converge at the Nengsra polling station tomorrow, the significance of this remote outpost in the Tura Parliamentary constituency cannot be overstated. Villagers from Innolgre, Seelpang, Kasari Sora, Kunchung Songmong, and Rona Agal brave the waters to cast their votes, amidst a backdrop of political fervor. Incumbent MP Agatha Sangma of the National People’s Party (NPP) faces formidable opponents in Saleng A Sangma of the Indian National Congress and Zenith Sangma of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), adding a layer of anticipation to the electoral landscape.Among the determined voters is Merian A Sangma, a postgraduate student who travelled 150 kilometres back to his village to participate in the democratic process.

Despite their commitment to the electoral process, villagers like Bendingson Sangma, a farmer, lament the lack of basic infrastructure, particularly the absence of a bridge, forcing them to rely on precarious river crossings, even during the rainy season. The plight of villagers like Krojilla Sangma echoes across the landscape, highlighting the dire need for improved infrastructure and access to essential services such as education and healthcare. With only one government school up to the 5th grade and no primary health services nearby, villagers are left with no choice but to navigate the treacherous waters in pursuit of education and medical assistance.

John Martin, another resident, sheds light on the challenges faced by schools during the rainy season, where closures are common due to the inability of teachers to reach the village amidst floods. Acknowledging the logistical hurdles, Shivansh Awasthi, the District Election Officer said that there are around 8 polling stations in South Garo Hills that are unmotarable. Some polling station officials have to go via boat. There is one polling station where our officials have to Trek around 9 km. But keeping all the odds in mind we have done our preparation accordingly. Awasthi assures voters of comprehensive preparations, including a robust communication plan and contingency measures to address any malfunctions promptly.

As the nation witnesses the democratic spectacle unfold, the resilience of these remote villagers serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring spirit of democracy, even in the face of adversity. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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