56.7% violence-free turnout in 321 Wards of 7 districts

Long queue of voters in R S Pura (left) and women casting votes in Hamdhania Colony, Bemina in Srinagar on Monday. -Excelsior pics by Rakesh & Shakeel
Long queue of voters in R S Pura (left) and women casting votes in Hamdhania Colony, Bemina in Srinagar on Monday. -Excelsior pics by Rakesh & Shakeel

Highest 81 pc voting in Rajouri, Kupwara too records 32.3 pc

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 8: An impressive turnout of 56.7 percent was recorded in 11 districts of the State, which went to polls in first phase of Municipal elections today with border district of Rajouri in Jammu region recording highest voting percentage of 81 and Bandipora district the lowest of 3.4 per cent.
The turnout was by and large peaceful with no major incident reported from any poll-bound area in all three regions of the State except minor complaints of verbal duels and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) getting out of order, all of which were addressed immediately and voting went on smoothly.

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Official sources told the Excelsior that three districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch registered good voting percentage of 63.8, 81 and 73.1 respectively. Two districts of Ladakh region including Leh and Kargil accounted for 55.2 and 78.2 percent voting.
The turnout in five out of six districts of Valley, which went to polls today, was very low. Only Kupwara district of Kashmir recorded reasonable turnout of 32.3 per cent while four other districts had extreme low polling. Turnout in Anantnag district was 7.3 per cent while in Budgam it was 17 per cent. In Bandipora and Baramulla, the voting percentage stood at 3.4 and 5.1 respectively.
In Srinagar, where only three Wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation went to polls today, the voting percentage was 7.3.
Sources said there was absolutely no impact of militant threats or poll boycott call given by National Conference and PDP in Jammu and Ladakh regions, where people including women, young and elderly citizens turned out in large numbers to elect their representatives to the Municipal bodies, the election for which are being held after a gap of more than 13 years.
There had been no complaint of any major election related violence in all 321 Wards across the State, where polling was held today in 820 polling stations after which fate of 1204 candidates was sealed in the EVMs, which would be opened on October 20 when four phase Municipal elections will be over. A total of 78 candidates in Phase-I have already been elected unopposed.
Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar told the Excelsior that voting percentage in Jammu Municipal Corporation and seven Municipal Committees falling in the district, stood at 63.83.
Kumar said the turnout in JMC was lowest among all eight bodies where 61.92 percent electorates exercised their right to franchise. In JMC 2,47,866 votes out of a total of 4,00,283 were polled. He added that highest turnout of 89 percent was reported from Jourian Municipal Committee (MC) where 2355/2646 votes were cast.
Gho Manhasan MC was followed by 86.21 percent voting (2745/3184 votes). Turnout in Bishnah MC was 85.1, where 6040 out of 7093 votes were polled while it was 79.07 in Arnia MC where 4877 voters exercised their right to franchise from a total of 6168. RS Pura accounted for 80.5 percent voting (7849/9746 votes)/ Turnout at Akhnoor MC was 80.49 per cent (5981/7406 votes). Khour recorded 82.13 per cent polling (4196/5109 votes).
SSP Jammu Vivek Gupta said polling passed off in all 75 Wards of Jammu Municipal Corporation and seven other Municipal bodies in Jammu district. He said minor incidents of verbal duel were reported, all of which were resolved on spot by the police officers. No major complaint has been recorded, he added.
Rajouri district with five Municipal Committees recorded 81 percent turnout.
Deputy Commissioner Rajouri, Aijaz Asad told the Excelsior that voting percentage was highest in Thanna Mandi MC (90.23) and was closely followed by 89.63 percent of Sunderbani MC. Turnout was 86.2 percent in Kalakote and 86.01 per cent Nowshera. Rajouri recorded lowest among all five Municipal Committees, where 74.71 percent votes were polled.
Asad said EVMs were replaced at two places including Ward No. 16 in Rajouri MC and Ward No. 6 in Kalakote MC. Polling concluded peacefully, he added.
SSP Rajouri Yougal Manhas said some preventive arrests were made in Rajouri. However, all those arrested were released after completion of voting at 4 pm.
Youth Congress district president Fayaz Mirza was among those detained. He was taken into custody from Ward No. 6.
The border district of Poonch with two Urban Local Bodies including Poonch Municipal Council and Surankote Municipal Committee recorded 73.1 per cent polling.
Turnout was 70.94 percent in Poonch Municipal Council and 73.14 percent in Surankote MC.
As many as 9148 votes were cast in Poonch Municipal Council out of which 4538 were male and 4510. Among all 17 Wards of Poonch Municipal Council where voting took place, maximum voters’ turnout was 83.51 percent in Ward No. 12.
However, election in Surankote Municipal Committee was held for nine Wards only out of 13 as four candidates have already been elected unopposed.
In voting for nine Wards, 10749 people cast their votes including 5417 male and 5232 females.
Turnout in Ward No. 9 of Surankote was maximum at 93.55 per cent.
Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh region have one Municipal Committee each.
Turnout was 55.2 per cent in Leh Municipal Committee, which had total of 29 candidates for 13 Wards. The Committee has 14,401 electorates and, out of them, 7810 votes were polled including 3780 male and 4030 females. Long queues of enthusiastic voters were seen at many polling stations during the day.
For Kargil Municipal Committee, huge turnout of 78.2 was recorded for 13 Wards for which 37 candidates had been in fray and authorities had set up 13 Municipal Wards.
Voting in both Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh region passed off peacefully.
Meanwhile, threats from militant groups kept a majority of people away from polling booths in Kashmir valley where the turnout was a paltry 8.3 per cent. Polling was, however, by and large peaceful in all seven districts of the Valley.
In Kashmir valley, Bandipora recorded the lowest turnout at 3.4 per cent. Kupwara district, where BJP ally and former Minister Sajjad Lone, MLA Handwara, holds considerable influence and had opposed the boycott call, recorded highest turnout of 32.3 per cent among all six districts of the Valley. Budgam also recorded 17 per cent polling.
With no election rallies taking place before the first-phase polling in 58 wards in Kashmir valley, the fear of militant groups was evident as many of the booths wore a deserted look and at certain places people tried to hide themselves from the assembled media persons.
“Only 7,057 voters of the 84,692 eligible persons turned up to vote in the Wards which went to polls (in Kashmir valley) today. The polling was by and large peaceful,” one of the officials said.
In North Kashmir, Kupwara Municipal Committee recorded a high voter turnout of 36.6 per cent, while 27.8 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise at Wards of Handwara Municipal Committee.
Out of the 30,074 voters in three Wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, 1,862 turned up at heavily-fortified polling stations.
Of the 150 polling stations in Kashmir division, 138 polling stations had been categorized as “hypersensitive”.
The second phase covering 384 Wards is scheduled for October 10, the third covering 207 Wards on October 13 and the last phase covering 132 Wards on October 16. The counting of votes will be done on October 20.
The last election to the Municipal bodies in the State was held in 2005 through ballots and the five-year term expired in February, 2010.

District Wards Voting
Anantnag 4 7.3%
Budgam 1 17.0%
Bandipora 16 3.4%
Baramulla 15 5.1%
Kupwara 18 32.3%
Srinagar 3 6.2%
Kargil 13 78.2%
Leh 13 55.2%
Jammu 153 63.8%
Poonch 26 73.1%
Rajouri 59 81.0%

Municipal Bodies-Voting
Jammu district:
JMC- 61.92 pc
Bishnah MC- 85.15 pc
Arnia MC– 79.07 pc
RS Pura MC— 80.54 pc
Gho Manhasan MC 86.21 pc
Akhnoor MC 80.49 pc
Khour MC 82.13 pc
Jourian MC 89 pc
Rajouri district:
Rajouri MC 74.71 pc
Kalakote MC 86.25 pc
Nowshera MC 86-01 pc
Thanna Mandi MC 90.23 pc
Sunderbani MC 89.63 pc
Poonch district:
Poonch Council 70.94 pc
Surankote MC 73.14 pc
Leh district:
Leh MC 55.2 pc
Kargil district:
Kargil MC 78.2 pc