J&K municipal polls: Kashmir valley wears deserted look, long queues of voters in Jammu

The Municipal polls in J&K which is taking place after a gap of 13 years saw less than 2% of the electorate cast their vote in 83 wards of urban local bodies during the first 2 hrs of the polling

Photo courtesy: Social media 
Photo courtesy: Social media

NH Web Desk

The municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir that is taking place after a gap of 13 years, on Monday, October 8, witnessed long queues in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts while people barely arrived in the valley booths that wore a deserted look.

Enthusiastic voters lined up outside the polling stations in Gandhi Nagar, RS Pura, Arnia, Jurian, Khour, Akhnoor, Bishnah, Nowshera, Surankote, Kalakote, and at many other places from 7 am, as the polling began. In the valley, the scene was just the opposite as the first phase of civic polls began.

A total of 218 votes were cast in the first two hours for the Baramulla Municipal Council, a poll official said.

A municipal ward in Badgam registered just four votes till 9am, while eight votes were cast at one of the polling stations in Bandipora district, which registered 187 votes in two hours, the official said.

Kupwara registered 545 votes in 11 wards during the same time, while Handwara, where one of the prominent voters was MLA Sajjad Gani Lone, registered 263 votes.

Reports from Leh and Kargil towns of Ladakh region said biting cold kept voters away, though the process was expected to pick up as the day progressed and warmed up.

Elections are being held in 422 of the state’s 1,145 municipal wards under heavy security. As many as 1,204 candidates are in the fray for the four-phased municipal election, which will end on October 16. Counting of votes will take place on October 20

Less than 2% of the electorate turned out to cast their votes in 83 wards of urban local bodies in Kashmir in the first two hours of polling for the first of the four-phased elections in the valley amidst stringent security arrangements.

"Nearly 1600 voters have exercised their franchise till 9.00 am at the 150 pollings stations set up in 83 wards across Kashmir Valley where polling is going on today," an official said.

Around 85,000 voters including 40,800 women are eligible to vote in the valley. Out of 30,074 voters in three wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, only 417 turned up at heavily-fortified polling stations.

Polling is picking up in north Kashmir as more than 10% of 4,700 voters cast their votes in the first two hours for Kupwara Municipal Committee, followed by 5.5% in Handwara town.

The poll percentage in Bandipora was an abysmal 1% while Baramulla recorded around 0.8% turnout, the official said.

In Anantnag, only 43 of the 1,639 votes have been cast so far, the official said, adding in Budgam only 12 voters turned up in the first two hours of polling.

The polling, which began at 7 am and will conclude at 4 pm, is being held for only 83 wards in the valley as 69 wards have been won uncontested.

Of the 150 polling stations in Kashmir division, 138 polling stations have been categorized as hypersensitive. The voting will take place at 820 polling stations across the state.

Elections are being held in 422 of the state's 1,145 municipal wards under heavy security. As many as 1,204 candidates are in the fray for the four-phased municipal election, which will end on October 16. Counting of votes will take place on October 20.

The urban local body polls were announced in September, but two major political parties -- National Conference and PDP -- have boycotted the elections accusing the Centre of not taking a firm stand on protection of Article 35-A of the Constitution which is facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

Militants have killed two National Conference workers and issued threats to anyone participating in these polls, resulting in absence of any campaigning by candidates. In fact, in dozens of wards especially in south Kashmir, no candidate has filed nomination papers for polls.

For ensuring security of candidates, they have been moved to safe locations and their details have not been made public. Government officials have also stopped the media from entering poll booths in the towns of Handwara and Kupwara. Officials says this is to ensure safety of voters.

Photo courtesy: Social media
Photo courtesy: Social media
People are thronging the polling stations to cast their votes to their favourite candidates in Jammu since Monday morning

Municipal elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases. A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1,145 wards. The next phases take place on 10th, 13th and 16th October. Massive security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.

The government has declared holiday on the day of poll in municipal areas going to polls so as to enable voters to cast their vote.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 08 Oct 2018, 11:42 AM