Encouraging first phase of polling

The first phase of democratic festival in Jammu and Kashmir state in respect of Jammu -Poonch and Baramulla Lok Sabha constituencies concluded with 72.16 percent turnout in Jammu and 35 percent in Baramulla respectively. Though by normal standards mere 35 percent polling in any Parliamentary constituency cannot be termed as satisfactory, but looking to the overall scenario right from the threat from militants as also negative, discouraging and avoidable statements given by the mainstream political parties in the valley, this percentage is comparatively quite encouraging. This splendid demonstration in the electoral process is not only a total negation of the ongoing Pakistan sponsored violence and terrorism in some parts of the state especially the valley but an unstinting faith in the country’s democratic setup. Notable turnout leading to highest percentage was recorded in Samba with 75.74 percent followed by Jammu with 74.5 and then by other districts like in Rajouri with over 65.70 % and Poonch with 70.5% respectively.
Voting in Jammu was up from 69 percent of last Parliamentary elections in 2014. It is noteworthy that authorities had identified 224 polling stations in Jammu Poonch Parliamentary constituency as being vulnerable to shelling and firing from Pakistan to disrupt the poll process and alternate arrangements were made as a precautionary measure should any eventuality of that nature arise but not a single polling station had to be shifted as there was nothing like any ceasefire violation or any act of provocation from across the border thanks to strict surveillance maintained by the army and the BSF.
Overall, a particular enthusiasm was witnessed across the state in the first phase and not only is the same expected to remain for rest of the phases but expectedly with further improvement in the percentage of polling. Not only has the first phase culminated with no incident of any terror, violence or even ceasefire violation but long queues standing to cast the vote on individual turns were witnessed throughout the day on an even manner. No system could be termed as totally error free or sans any type of malfunctioning while in operation, and this is true of the EVMs too which resulted in no hassles or any disruption in the process of polling excepting a short delay of an hour or two, wherever noticed, which was taken as a normal happening.
North Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency witnessed, by and large, a peaceful polling with huge turnout recorded in certain areas while in the rest, there was either low or a scenario of succumbing to boycott calls and threat from the vested elements. Any political analyst would term the overall scenario of the Baramulla polling as total rejection of the so called “Hurriyat” movement and the Pakistan sponsored violence in the state. Expressing faith in the mainstream politics and democratic system by the percentage of voters braving all odds to visit polling booths, standing in the queues and then casting the vote should not be termed as symbolic as even if one or two members from a family walked up to a polling booth, that meant indirectly the acquiesce of other members eligible for voting. The state as well as central governments must take a note of it and must initiate a serious process of encouraging the nationalist forces in the valley . They are not less in number but are forming a considerable number to hold the national flag firmly in hands and with due respect.
We also saw some voters exuberantly enjoying the moments of casting their voters in areas of Baramulla constituency, quite unmindful or least caring about being “noticed” even while dancing, which depicts that on the whole people are tired of and fatigued from the acts of violence , spilling of blood, hartals and protests and the sort going on for the last three decades and want to break the vicious cycle and experience positive , constructive and productive measures and ways . This needs to be securely encouraged .
Some sporadic minor incidents did take place and a student lost his life which is unfortunate but the enthusiasm witnessed in Uri, Handwara, Langate, Kupwara, Karnah, Gulmarg, Gurez, Pattan and other areas have reiterated the fact of rejection of violence and affirmation in the democratic process by the people . Let this prove as positively contagious so as to witness total peace and tranquillity in Jammu and Kashmir in the immediate near future.