Brisk, peaceful 78.6% turnout in Jammu, just 3.4% in Kashmir

Few voters at Sumbal, Bandipora in Kashmir (left) and long queues of electorates in Udhampur in Jammu region (right) on Wednesday. —Excelsior pics by Aabid Nabi & K Kumar
Few voters at Sumbal, Bandipora in Kashmir (left) and long queues of electorates in Udhampur in Jammu region (right) on Wednesday. —Excelsior pics by Aabid Nabi & K Kumar

Fate of 1029 candidates sealed in EVMs

Sanjeev Pargal/
Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/Srinagar, Oct 10: An overall 31.3 percent polling was recorded in Phase-II of Municipal elections spread over 263 Wards and 11 districts across the State with turnout going on expected lines as Jammu region witnessed brisk voting at 78.6 percent while Kashmir valley recorded extreme low of just 3.4 percent.
With today’s voting, the election process for Urban Local Bodies has been completed in nine out of 10 districts of Jammu region. Samba district will go to polls in third phase on October 13. Elections were conducted in Ladakh region in Phase-I.
Reasi district in Jammu region recorded highest turnout of 84.4 per cent. Bandipora district came as only silver lining in the Kashmir valley, which registered 35.6 percent voting while rest all four districts recorded below two digit voting percentage, official sources told the Excelsior.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said overall 31.3 per cent voters exercised their right to franchise in second phase of Municipal elections. Turnout in Jammu region stood at 78.6 per cent in total 214 Wards of six districts including Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar while it was 3.4 per cent in 49 Wards of Kashmir involving five districts, he said, adding that Bandipora recorded highest 36 per cent voting.
“Accumulative voting percentage of two phases is 47.2 with 67.7 percent in Jammu province and 8.3 percent in Kashmir division,” Kabra said.

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Sixty-five candidates have been elected unopposed in second phase including 61 in Kashmir, three in Banihal (district Ramban) and one in Lakhanpur (district Kathua) of Jammu region.
Kabra has ordered re-poll at Polling Station No. 4 (New Colony, Shirpora Payeen) in Ward No. 23 (Shirpora Bala) in Anantnag Municipal Council on October 13 in view of malfunctioning of the EVM.
Meanwhile, fate of 1029 candidates was sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in 263 Wards of Phase-II elections, which will be opened on October 20 when counting for all 22 districts will be held collectively. A total of 544 polling stations were set up for today’s voting including 270 in Jammu and 274 in Kashmir.
In first two phases out of four-phased Municipal elections, 4,36,285 people have cast their votes from a total of 9,33,000 eligible voters.
Voting percentage in six districts of Jammu region stood as Kathua (79.38), Doda (72.77), Kishtwar (72.77), Ramban (79.53), Reasi (84.4) and Udhampur (79.2).
Voting, however, passed off peacefully in all six districts of Jammu region with no incident reported from any area barring verbal duels, which were addressed by the administration on spot.
In today’s polling, highest numbers of 43658 votes were cast for six Urban Local Bodies in Kathua district from out of a total of 54997, recording a turnout of 79.38, Deputy Commissioner Kathua, Rohit Khajuria said.
An impressive turnout of 72.77 per cent was recorded in three Municipal bodies of Doda district, Deputy Commissioner Doda, Simrandeep Singh said.
Simrandeep said 4481 out of 5897 votes were polled in Doda Municipal Committee (76 percent), 4713/6852 votes were cast for Bhaderwah MC (68.8 per cent) and 626/746 voters used their right in Thathri MC (83.9 per cent).
“The voting concluded peacefully. No untoward incident was reported from any of the three Committees,” he added.
Incidentally, Doda’s neighbouring Kishtwar district also recorded same voting percentage of 72.77 and despite several areas of the lone Municipal Committee in Kishtwar being sensitive, the polling concluded peacefully.
DC Kishtwar Angrez Singh Rana and SSP Kishtwar Rajinder Gupta said out of a total of 9125 electorates for 13-Ward Kishtwar MC, 6641 votes were polled. They added that there was enthusiasm among the voters. Adequate security arrangements had been made for today’s polling.
Udhampur district with one Municipal Council and two Committees recorded 79.21 percent turnout with highest 88.26 percent in Chenani MC followed by 85.40 per cent in Ramnagar MC and 75.01 percent in Udhampur Council.
DC Udhampur Ravinder Kumar said out of total of 35,353 electorates in three Local Bodies, 28003 exercised their right to franchise. In Udhampur Municipal Council, 23,533/30166 votes were polled while in Ramnagar MC 3230/3780 votes were cast. For Chenani MC 1240/1405 votes were polled.
DC Reasi Prasanna Ramaswamy G said 84.42 percent votes were polled for two Municipal Committees of Reasi district. In Reasi MC, 3895/4518 votes were polled, recording a turnout of 86.21 per cent while in Katra MC, the voting percentage stood at 82.99 where 4709 votes were cast from out of a total of 5674.
Kathua district with six Municipal Committees registered 79.38 percent voting, the highest being 92.6 per cent for Lakhanpur MC and lowest 76.64 percent for Basohli MC.
DC Kathua Rohit Khajuria said out of a total of 35,000 electorates for Kathua Municipal Council, 27215 were polled, which comes out at 77.75 per cent while in Nagri Parole MC, 4704 votes were polled from total of 5354 (87.8 per cent). Hiranagar MC had 78.9 percent voting where 4942 votes were polled from out of 6263. Billawar MC had 83.7 percent voting with 3015 votes polled from 3601.
Basohli MC recorded 76.6 percent voting (3092/4034). Lakhanpur MC registered 92.6 percent voting (690/745).
In Ramban district, 79.5 percent polling was recorded for three Municipal Committees with 4234 voters turning up at polling stations from out of a total of 5324.
In MC Ramban, 1281 votes were polled from 1537 while in Banihal MC, 677 votes were cast from 981. In Batote MC, 2276 votes were polled from 5324. Three candidates had already been elected unopposed in Banihal. Polling in Ward No. 2 of MC Ramban was countermanded due to death of BJP candidate Azad Singh Raju following cardiac arrest this morning.
DC Ramban Showkat Aijaz Bhat, SSP Ramban Anita Sharma and Additional SP Ramban Sanjay Parihar visited various polling stations to ensure smooth conduct of polls.
The low voter turnout in Kashmir was in line with a meager 8.3 per cent turnout in the valley during the first phase of polling, when the Jammu and Ladakh divisions had witnessed over 65 per cent of voting, they said.
Nineteen Wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, having an electorate of 1.78 lakh, witnessed a turnout of just 2.3 per cent, officials said.
Bandipora district, however, witnessed brisk polling as 34.2 per cent of the 8,300 voters exercised their franchise, the officials said.
They said Sopore in North Kashmir and Anantnag in South Kashmir registered turnouts of 6.1 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.
Kashmir witnessed low voter turnout despite election authorities having advanced the starting time of voting for the second phase by an hour to 6 am, half an hour before the day break.
As many as 65 candidates with 61 of them from Kashmir valley have already won the polls uncontested while in 56 wards – all in the valley – no nomination was filed, due to which no voting took place there, they said.
Massive security arrangements were put in place for smooth conduct of the polls, the officials said, adding no untoward incident was reported during the polling.
Municipal elections, covering 79 local urban bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases.
A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. The next phases are scheduled to take place on October 13 and 16.
Meanwhile, a BJP candidate from Anantnag, Rafiq Wani, said that the change of timing to 6 a.m is good as his supporters were feeling terrified and they voted early in the morning when the people were asleep. “The change of timing which is too early is good for the voters from security point of view”, he said.
Fayaz Ahmad Hilla who is also BJP candidate from Anantnag Municipal Committee said that majority of the votes in his Ward were polled early in the morning due to security reasons. “We were always in favour that the voting should start as early as possible as later there is apprehension of stone pelters targeting the Polling booths”, he said.
Abdul Rashid, a Poll official who was on poll duty in Bandipora district, however, said that there is no fun of starting as early as 6 a.m. “It was chilly inside the Polling Station and it was still dark when we started. The voters were asleep and they started coming after 7 a.m. The poll timing should be after 8 starting too early is no fun as the number of voters in the Polling Stations is not too high that polls be started at 6 a.m.”, he said.
A Police man who was performing security duty outside Polling booth in the outskirts of Srinagar said that starting too early is no fun. “Only few voters polled votes here and starting before the first light makes no fun. The polling can be started any time between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m,” he said.
Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag SIngh said that the two phases of four-phased Municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir passed off peacefully. He said that security forces and police did their job properly while as the public cooperation was great.
He said that the two upcoming phases of ULB elections will also be peaceful. “Both the phases went peaceful. Security forces and police did their job properly. Public’s cooperation was great. I think that the two phases of upcoming polls will be peaceful”, he said.
Former National Conference leader and Independent candidate for Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Junaid Matoo, said that due to the election boycott State is facing losses. “This is the obvious thing why I resigned from NC because of this decision. I don’t know why they boycotted the elections but I think by boycotting the election, State had always suffered loss. Whenever elections are boycotted, State has suffered loss”, he said.
Matoo said that there is no fun of boycotting the polls on Article 35A issue. “Efforts should be that an accidental leadership should not emerge and what is the fun of boycotting these types of elections. If they have boycotted due to Article 35A issue then there are Assembly and Parliamentary elections coming ahead and there should be same approach at that time also. Article 35A is non-negotiable, it is an article of faith but there is no relation between Article 35A and boycott of elections”, he said.
“This election is about the day to day problems faced by the people. The local body elections is about the poor people, electing their local representative who highlight the local issues that perhaps are not noticed by the legislators or Parliamentarians. Everyone has valuable vote and efforts should be that the voter is encouraged, it should be glorified that he voted and not vilified. He is the same voter who votes in other elections, if he is good at that time then he is good today as well”, said Matoo.
“The elections should be conducted peacefully and people should use their valuable vote. Today is the voter’s day; he elects his representative that is important for the development of the society”, he said.
A BJP candidate, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone said that people showed courage and participated in the polls despite threats. “I am contesting from Ward 32 on the BJP’s ticket. I was earlier also elected as Sarpanch here and that time I did a lot of developmental work. I am very happy that the elections were held peacefully and there is no fear in people as they came forward for voting. People came in hundreds to cast their votes. There was a notion of fear among the people that by casting vote, they will be killed but it is the election of the local representative. People today showed their courage and came out to cast their votes everywhere. They proved that only peace and democracy can work”, he said.
Meanwhile, Srinagar city recorded lowest ever voter turnout in any election with less than 100 electorates casting their votes in nine out of the 19 Wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) today.
As per the State poll panel figures, a meagre 2.3 per cent of the 1.78 lakh city voters stepped out to cast their votes.
It was the lowest voter turn out in any election in Srinagar City, which has shown more inclination towards abstention from the electoral process since the eruption of militancy in the State in 1989.
In the Lok Sabha bypolls for Srinagar parliamentary constituency held in April 2017, the voter turnout was marginally higher than seven per cent.
In the 2nd phase of municipal polls Wednesday, two wards — Syed Ali Akbar and Tankipora — recorded less than 10 votes.
Only eight of the 10,371 voters cast their votes in Tankipora while nine out of 7,784 voters exercised their franchise in Syed Ali Akbar Ward.
Interestingly, the last of the nine votes in Syed Ali Akbar Ward was cast before 8.00 am while in Tankipora the last vote was cast just before the voting was to end at 4 pm.
S D Colony, Aloochibagh, Ziyarat Batamaloo, Karan Nagar, Nundreshi Colony, Basant Bagh and Fateh Kadal Wards all recorded less than 100 votes while four other Wards recorded less than 150 votes.
On the contrary, people at Lawaypora and Zainakot Wards waited in long queues outside the polling stations to exercise their franchise.
In Lawaypora, over 15 per cent of the 6,385 electorate exercised their franchise while 864 of the 12,754 voters cast their votes at Zainakot.
Mujgund recorded 4.5 per cent polling while Solina registered over 6.3 per cent turn out.