79.3 pc cast votes in Samba’s 2 seats

Sanjeev Pargal

SAMBA, Dec 14: The border district of Samba today recorded huge turnout of 79.3 per cent with voters in two Assembly constituencies of the district-Samba and Vijaypur turning up in large numbers to exercise their right to franchise. All polling stations in the border areas of the district, including eight booths falling within the firing range of Pakistan, recorded above 80 per cent turnout without any fear.
Out of 18 Assembly constituencies that went to polls in fourth phase today, there were only two segments of Jammu region of this border district while 16 seats belonged to Srinagar, Anantnag and Shopian districts of the Kashmir Valley. Now, 20 seats of Jammu region-11 in Jammu district-five in Kathua and four in Rajouri will have voting in fifth and final phase of elections on December 20 followed by counting of votes on December 23.
District Electoral Officer (DEO) Samba, Mubarak Singh told the Excelsior that polling in both Samba and Vijaypur constituencies of Samba district was “error, trouble and hassle free” and there was no complaints of any political clash, border firing or any other complaints by the candidates.
Singh said Vijaypur constituency recorded 81.77 per cent polling while 76.90 percent electorates cast their votes in Samba segment. In 2008 Assembly elections, the turnout was 72.52 per cent in Samba and 76.94 per cent in Vijaypur, which showed an increase of over 4 per cent in Samba and 5 per cent in Vijaypur. However, the increase was 3 per cent in Samba and 5 per cent in Vijaypur as compared to April-May 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
SSP Samba Anil Magotra said the polling passed off peacefully in all 259 polling stations of the district as no untoward incident was reported from any booth of two Assembly segments.
Mubarak Singh said all eight polling stations falling within firing range of Pakistan voted peacefully as there was no firing from across the International Border and the Contingency Plan, prepared by the district administration with approval of the Election Commission, was not enforced.
Two polling stations at Glard and one each at Bain Sardi (Samba segment) and two polling stations each at Nanga and Channi Fatwal (Vijaypur constituency) had been identified for relocation under the Contingency Plan as they fell within the firing range. Authorities had identified alternative polling stations for all these four booths in safer zones and made all arrangements of security, EVMs etc there in case the relocation was necessitated due to Pakistan firing.
However, polling in all eight stations passed off peacefully without any untoward incident. All the eight polling stations recorded above 80 per cent turnout with the border people turning out fearlessly to cast their votes. Large queues of the people were seen at all these polling stations right from the morning. Polling at some of booths in the border areas continued beyond 4 pm.
“There was no fear among the border people about the firing. We have braved the bullets for long and now they don’t deter us. We want to use our right of ballot and defeat the bullets. We have succeeded. Almost entire village has cast their votes,” said 75 years old Om Prakash, a resident of village Bain in Samba sector.
Samba sector falling along the International Border was hit hard by the Pakistan firing a couple of months back but now the situation has returned to normal.
The DEO Samba said the administration did web casting at 100 out of total 259 polling stations in Samba district while voting at 38 polling stations was videographed. In 33 polling stations, digital still photography was conducted. This way, 171 polling stations of two Assembly constituencies of the border district were directly under surveillance of the Election authorities. The Election Commission of India and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K can directly watch the voting from 100 polling stations, where web casting was done.
“Apart from these measures, the Election Commission had deployed Micro Observers at 40 polling stations and 44 Zonal and Sector Magistrates to rule out any mischief or malpractice during the polling,” Singh said.
He added that in 68 hyper sensitive polling stations of the border district, the administration had deployed three to four sections of Central Police Forces (CPFs) in every booth apart from police.
The BSF maintained strict surveillance all along the International Border (IB) in Samba and other sectors to ensure that there was no infiltration of the militants from the border to disturb the elections. Four militants had struck in border village of Arnia over a fortnight back and killed five civilians and three Army personnel before they were eliminated by the troops.
Police parties from Samba headed by SSP Anil Magotra visited several polling stations in border areas of Samba district to monitor situation for peaceful voting.


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