71 pc polling in Ladakh; 1.23 lakh votes cast

Long queues of voters in Kargil (left) and Leh (right) on Monday. -Excelsior pics by Basharat Ladakhi & Morup Stanzin
Long queues of voters in Kargil (left) and Leh (right) on Monday. -Excelsior pics by Basharat Ladakhi & Morup Stanzin

J&K records 44.5 pc turnout for all 6 LS seats

Kargil witnesses 79.5, Leh 62.6 pc voting

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, May 6: Ladakh Parliamentary constituency, which went to polling today in fifth and final phase in Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a turnout of 71.01 per cent with Leh district accounting for 62.63 percent voting and Kargil district witnessing a massive 79.5 percent turnout.
A total of 1,23,475 votes were polled today from a total of 1,74,618. In Leh district, 54,585 votes were polled from a total of 87,159 while in Kargil district, 68,890 votes were cast from out of 86,669.

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Official sources told the Excelsior that today’s voting percentage of 71.1 on Ladakh seat was marginally up from 70.78 recorded in 2014 general elections when BJP’s Thupstan Chhewang had won the seat by a margin of 36 votes over his Independent rival Ghulam Raja, a Congress rebel.
Voting percentage in Leh district stood at 62.63 while it was 79.5 in Kargil district.
Nubra Assembly segment in Leh district recorded 67.49 percent turnout as against 69.69 percent of 2014 while Leh Assembly constituency accounted for 61.68 percent as compared to 63.67 percent in last general election.
In Zanskar Assembly seat of Kargil district, the voting percentage was 82 as against 68.53 in 2014 while in Kargil Assembly constituency, the polling percentage was 78.6 as against 76.6 of previous election.
In Leh Assembly constituency, 44,999 votes were polled from out of a total of 72,956 while in Nubra, 9586 people exercised their right to franchise from a total of 14,203. In Kargil Assembly segment, 50,587 votes were cast from a total of 64,344 and in Zanskar constituency, 18,303 votes were polled out of 22,325.
Today’s polling has sealed fate of four candidates including Jamyang Tsering Namgayal (BJP), who is sitting Chairman-cum-CEC of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, Rigzin Spalbar (Congress), Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie, a Congress rebel and Sajjad Kargili (both Independents). Counting of votes will be held on May 23.
Deputy Commissioner, Leh, Avny Lavasa, who was Returning Officer for Ladakh Parliamentary seat, told reporters late this evening that polling was completely peaceful in entire constituency with no law and order incident reported from anywhere.
She said problems with VVPATs attached with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were reported from few places due to non-functional of batteries in view of cold weather but they were replaced immediately. Voting nowhere was suspended for more than two hours, she added.
Final polling figures from four polling stations in far off areas of Leh district were yet to be confirmed, Lavasa said.
She said 4000 postal ballots for Ladakh constituency have been distributed and, out of them, 900 had been received till this morning. However, the deadline for receipt of postal ballots is the morning of counting of ballots i.e. May 23, she added.
She said a total of 49 all-women staff polling stations had been set up and the staff had done good job with no incident or any kind of problem reported from there.
Lavasa admitted that voting turnout in Leh was below expectations while it was satisfactory in Nubra.
The Congress polling agents have reportedly lodged a complaint of booth capturing by the BJP in Zanskar.
Polling in entire Ladakh constituency remained peaceful with no incident of any kind of violence reported from any of the 559 polling stations set up for 1,74,618 electorates.
“There was no report of any scuffle between supporters of candidates or any other poll-related violence from any area of entire Ladakh seat,’’ sources said, adding that only a couple of incidents of mal-functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were received but they were rectified immediately, leading to resumption of voting.
Significantly, this was a rare occasion when there was nearly 17 percent gap between polling percentage of Leh and Kargil districts. In the previous elections, there used to be the difference of 3 to 4 percent turnout between the two districts.
Muslim dominated Kargil district presented a complete contrast look than South Kashmir with Muslim men and women turning out in large numbers, standing up in queues for hours together and casting their votes without any fear. While Kargil recorded massive 79.5 percent polling, Shopian and Pulwama districts in South Kashmir witnessed less than 3 percent turnout.
However, a complete divide could be witnessed between Leh and Kargil, where people voted for the candidates of their own districts,
Sharply divided between two Independent candidates—Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie and Sajjad Kargili, people in Kargil district openly said they wanted a candidate from their district should win as last time our nominee had lost the poll by razor thin margin of just 36 votes.
“We want the candidate from district Kargil to win this time,’’ said a woman, Sheezan in Kargil town but declined to disclose whether she voted for Karbalaie or Sajjad.
Even within Kargil district, the people were evenly divided between Karbalaie and Sajjad.
While the supporters of Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) were en-masse voting for Karbalaie, those affiliated with Islamiya School Kargil (ISK), National Conference and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) cast their vote for Sajjad.
IKMT and ISK, the two powerful religious bodies of Kargil hold considerable influence over the people of Kargil.
There was absolutely no impact of any kind of boycott call in Kargil, though the district has about 95 percent Muslim population. People including women right from 7 am had started lining up outside the polling booths to exercise their right to franchise. However, irrespective of their affiliation with IKMT-backed Karbalaie or ISK-supported Sajjad, people said they want Kargil to be developed like Kashmir and Jammu.
“Our district remains cut off for five months in the winter from rest of the country. We feel shortage of essential commodities during the period. We want our Lok Sabha member to expedite construction work of Zojila tunnel to link Kargil with rest of the State throughout the year,’’ observed Mohammad Shabbir, a businessman.
Another local civilian, Mubarak Hussain was of the view that even during seven months period when Kargil is linked with rest of the State or the country, we face extreme shortage of electricity and water besides other essential commodities. Medicare and education is also not up to the standard, he lamented and hoped the new MP will take all these issues into the consideration.
Air connectivity is another issue in Kargil.
People said while Leh is connected by air, Kargil isn’t. “We should get full-fledged airport and regular flights from Jammu, Srinagar, New Delhi and other destinations so that tourists come here and our economy gets a boost,’’ they added.
Almost similar was the situation in Leh district, where the Buddhists too wanted a candidate from Leh to win. Both BJP and Congress had fielded their candidates from Leh district including Jamyang Tsering Namgayal (BJP), who happens to be sitting Chairman-cum-CEC of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh and Rigzin Spalbar of Congress, former CEC of LAHDC Leh.
Though the people in Leh too were tightlipped over their choice between BJP and Congress, they were all praise for the Central rule saying they got divisional headquarters and Central University recently while education and health infrastructure has also been raised though still it was not up to the standards of Srinagar and Jammu.
Voters of both Leh and Kargil districts were of the view that victory of the candidate affiliated to their district will lead to “more development’’ in their areas. They claimed it has happened in the past also.
“If the Lok Sabha member is elected from Leh district, he is more focused on Leh and if he wins from Kargil district, he would concentrate on his home district,’’ they said, adding though at the time of campaigning, the candidate promise equal development of the two districts but the assurance remained confined to papers only.
86 years old senior citizen from Goma, Kargil Haji Mohammad Jaffer said he was excited to see the result of his vote within 7 seconds in the VVPAT machines, which has assured him that his vote has been cast to the right person.
Another senior citizen from Baroo, Kargil, Ali Akbar, after casting his first vote said that he has voted for a better future for the next generation.
Religious scholar Sheikh Mohammad Hussain Lutfi talking about importance of vote said that every individual whether men or women should come out and vote keeping in view a better future for the society.