The Epic Journey to Uphold Democracy in the Himalayas

Vishal Aheer and his team undertook a grueling seven-hour trek across the Himalayan mountains to ensure that 185 villagers in Almi, Himachal Pradesh, could vote. Despite perilous conditions, they prioritized democratic rights, reflecting a broader commitment to inclusive voting. The villagers, although a minuscule part of the electorate, felt their voices remained unheard post-election.

Reuters | Updated: 31-05-2024 21:24 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 21:24 IST
The Epic Journey to Uphold Democracy in the Himalayas

Vishal Aheer and his team trudged up treacherous Himalayan mountain paths and across rickety bridges for seven hours to make sure that just 185 Indian villagers could vote in what has been a mammoth election.

The rules say no one should have to travel more than 2 km or so to cast their ballot - and Almi, a hamlet in Mandi constituency in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is one of the inaccessible areas where officials have to bring the ballot box to the voters. "We risked our life to get here," Aheer said after a trek that crossed rivers, pools and mountain passes.

Aheer, three officials and two policemen set out by road from the town of Bharmour on Thursday morning, then covered 15 km (almost 10 miles) on foot to reach Almi, nearly 3,000 m above sea level, at dusk. Voting takes place on Saturday, ending at 6 p.m. Then Aheer and his team have to head straight back down with the electronic voting machines in sealed boxes, which must be put in a strong room as soon as possible after voting is finished.

Almi's voters make up roughly 0.0000002% of the 968 million-strong electorate, who have been voting in seven phases since April 19, and this is the most attention they expect to receive in parliament's five-year term. "They say vote for us, we will give you help from outside, we will give you a road, we will give you a school - but no one asks us our conditions after the elections," said 22-year-old student Akwanshi Thakur.

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

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