Another overwhelming response to DDC polls in Jammu: turnout 66.6 pc

Long queues of voters in Ramban on Thursday. . —Excelsior/Parvez Mir
Long queues of voters in Ramban on Thursday. . —Excelsior/Parvez Mir

NC workers attack BJP activist, FIR lodged
*Fate of many prominent contestants sealed in ballot boxes

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Dec 10: Jammu region continued to show overwhelming response to the District Development Council (DDC) elections with whopping 66.67 percent electorates exercising their right to franchise for 20 Territorial Constituencies in fifth phase of voting today which passed off peacefully barring attack on a BJP activist in Dhangri seat in Rajouri district in which an FIR has been registered against the National Conference workers.
However, voting percentage fell by 2.6 percent in Phase-V as compared to Phase-IV, official figures released by the State Election Commission (SEC) revealed.
Click here to watch video
Polling percentage was 64 in the first phase which went up to 65.5 in second phase, 68.8 in third and 69.3 in fourth. However, it came down to 66.67 in the fifth phase polling held today across 20 seats in all 10 districts of the region in which fate of many prominent candidates has been sealed in the ballot boxes which will be opened simultaneously for all 280 seats in the Union Territory on December 22.
Poonch district in the Jammu region today recorded highest voting percentage of 71.62 while Jammu reported minimum turnout of 60.24 percent. Voting percentage in other districts was 68.27 (Kishtwar), 69.47 (Udhampur), 62.36 (Kathua), 67.11 (Ramban), 70.95 (Doda), 64.71 (Samba), 70.83 (Rajouri) and 69.15 (Reasi).
Overall voting percentage in Jammu and Kashmir stood at 51.2.
The constituencies which went to polls today include Palmar and Thakraie in Kishtwar district, Gundana, Kahara and Thathri (Doda), Batote (Ramban), Arnas and Bhomag (Reasi), Khoon and Majalta (Udhampur), Marheen and Nagrota Gujroo (Kathua), Nud and Ramgarh-B (Samba), Mandal Phallian and Miran Sahib (Jammu), Kalakote and Dhangri (Rajouri) and Lassana and Poonch in Poonch district.
Vivek Sharma, BJP district polling booth observer was assaulted by the National Conference workers outside Baljarala polling station in Dhangri seat of Rajouri district after the polling culminated. The BJP and NC workers had heated arguments after which Sharma was assaulted.
He was shifted to local hospital from where he has been referred to the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu.
SSP Rajouri Chandan Kohli said a FIR has been registered against the persons responsible for the assault and further investigations in the case are on.
BJP’s Vipan Mehta and NC’s Rameshwar Singh were prominent contestants in Dhangri segment among others.
Bigwigs of various political parties whose fate was sealed today in ballot boxes after fifth phase of polling include former BJP Minister Shakti Raj Parihar, who was in the fray from Gundana Territorial seat of Doda district. Pitted against him was joint candidate of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) Advocate Asim Hashmi among others. Parihar was also the BJP candidate from Marmat seat where voting has already been held.
Manju Singh wife of former Cabinet Minister and National Panthers Party (NPP) supremo Harshdev Singh and Juhi Manhas wife of former BJP MLA from Ramnagar Ranbir Singh Pathania were in the fray in Khoon seat of Udhampur district.
Sushma Thakur wife of former National Conference MLA late Rashpal Singh Thakur and Anita Thakur of BJP, who happens to be the wife of Rashpal Singh’s brother Randhir Singh, were in fray from Kalakote in Rajouri district.
Sarf Singh Nag, who had quit the Government job as JKAS officer, was the BJP candidate from Bhomag seat in Reasi district. BJP district president for Poonch Mohammad Rafiq Chisti was in the contest with Congress district president for Poonch Gani Choudhary besides Jammu Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) nominee Radham Preet Singh, who had the backing of Gupkar Alliance from Poonch seat.
However, a total of 144 candidates including 40 women were in the fray today from 20 District Development Council seats in the Jammu region.
Out of a total of 4.34 lakh voters eligible to exercise their right to vote on 20 seats, 2.93 lakh votes were polled including 1.55 lakh male and 1.38 lakh females. A total of 914 polling stations had been set up for today’s voting.
Apart from 20 seats of the DDCs, polling was also held for by-elections to Sarpanch and Panch segments in the region. Counting of Sarpanch and Panch seats was taken up immediately after the polling was over and almost all results were declared by late tonight.
Reports from different areas suggested that voting started on a dull note at many places at 7 am but picked up between 8 am and 9 am and was brisk thereafter. Though the voting was scheduled to conclude at 2 pm, it continued at many places till 2.30 pm or 3 pm or even beyond as many people had reached the booths at 2 pm. In number of booths, people were heard saying the voting time should be extended till 4 pm or even 5 pm like Parliament and Assembly elections.
They were of the view that if the voting time is extended till 5 pm, the turnout would reach 80 percent or even more saying many people are unable to vote due to end of polling at 2 pm.
Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner (SEC) K K Sharma told reporters here this evening that over 51 per cent of people voted across 37 seats in the fifth phase of District Development Council elections across the Union Territory that passed off peacefully.
While giving a brief about today’s elections, the SEC said that a large number of people came out to cast their votes during this phase of the polling, which was peaceful and people participated enthusiastically despite severe cold conditions in Kashmir division and some hilly areas of Jammu division.
Sharma said polling was held in 2104 polling stations including 1190 from Kashmir division and 914 from Jammu division.