*Turnout further goes up in Jammu to 68.8 pc
JAMMU, Dec 4: Fate of number of bigwigs including former Ministers, legislators and kin of politicians was sealed in Phase-III of District Development Council (DDC) elections in which 68.88 percent turnout was recorded for 17 Territorial Constituencies in nine districts of Jammu region today, which was highest in all three phases and concluded peacefully barring minor scuffles between supporters and candidates.
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Overall voting percentage in Jammu and Kashmir stood at 50.53, according to figures released by State Election Commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma.
Highest voting percentage of 75.2 was recorded in Rajouri district and minimum 59.51 in Doda among nine districts of Jammu region in today’s polling. No constituency went to polls in Udhampur district in the third phase of voting today. Poll percentage in first phase of voting in Jammu region was 64 which went up to 65.54 in second phase and 68.88 in third phase held today.
Bigwigs, whose fate was sealed in the ballot boxes after third phase of voting today, include Abdul Gani Malik, former Cabinet Minister and National Conference leader who is contesting the DDC election from Mahore constituency, Aijaz Khan, another former Minister who has switched over from Congress to Apni Party, who is in the fray from Thuroo seat, both in Reasi district, Shah Mohammad Tantray, former PDP MLA from Poonch, who is in the contest from Loran seat as an Independent candidate after having resigned from the PDP, Dr Shahnaz Ganaie, former National Conference MLC (now Independent) and Atiqa Begum mother of former National Conference MLA Aijaz Jan, both of whom are contesting the election from Mandi seat of Poonch district, Zubaida Begum wife of former Cabinet Minister Zulfqar Choudhary who has quit PDP to join Apni Party, Shazia Kouser (Independent), niece of Zulfkar, both of whom are candidates from Budhal Old-A in Rajouri district, Rajinder Kumar Happy son of former Cabinet Minister and veteran Congress leader Mula Ram from Marh seat in Jammu and Riaz Naz son of former MLA Bashir Naz, who is contesting as Independent from Loran among others.
District wise polling percentage stood as 70.44 (Jammu), 70.15 (Samba), 70.35 (Kishtwar), 62.18 (Kathua), 64.79 (Ramban), 59.51 (Doda), 72.18 (Poonch), 72.881 (Rajouri) and 75.20 (Reasi).
Enthusiasm among the voters could be well gauged from the fact that six out of nine districts where polling was held in the third phase today recorded above 70 percent turnout while two districts had above 60 percent polling. Doda was the only district where voting percentage was below 60 but it was quite good at 59.5 percent.
Out of a total of 3.74 lakh voters eligible to exercise their right to franchise for 17 seats of Jammu region, 2.57 lakh cast their votes including 1.36 lakh male and 1.21 lakh females.
Seventeen seats which went to polls today in the Jammu region include Bhalwal and Marh in Jammu district, Vijaypur-A And Vijaypur-B in Samba district, Basohli and Billawar in Kathua, Mahore and Thuroo in Reasi, Budhal Old-A and Thanna Mandi in Rajouri, Loran and Mandi in Poonch, Gool in Ramban, Bhaderwah East and Bhaderwah West in Doda and Bounjwah and Nagseni in Kishtwar district.
Out of 140 seats in Jammu region, polling has been completed in 53 Territorial Constituencies of 10 districts in the first three phases.
Heated exchanges took place between former Cabinet Minister and National Conference leader Surjit Singh Slathia and Independent candidate Paramjit Singh (Ikkjut Jammu) at village Bagoona in Rajinderpura area of Vijaypur-A Territorial Constituency in Samba district over parking of vehicles.
Both the parties have submitted complaints and counter complaints against each other at Vijaypur police station which are likely to be converted into the First Information Reports (FIRs). However, no one was injured in the incident. Police parties from Vijaypur led by SHO Inspector Sudhir Kumar rushed to the spot and defused the tension.
People at booth Nos. 25 and 26 at Kounch and Kali Masta in Gool Territorial segment of Ramban district refused to cast their votes in the morning in protest against lack of development especially construction of roads in the area. The Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) rushed to the spot, talked to the people and assured to take up their demands with the concerned authorities after which the people agreed to cast their votes. Polling later concluded peacefully.
A total of 139 candidates were in the fray for 17 constituencies of the District Development Councils in Jammu region.
Along with third phase of the DDC elections, by-polls for Sarpanch and Panch constituencies were also held and their counting was taken up immediately after voting concluded in the afternoon. Majority of results had been declared by tonight.
As many as 838 Sarpanchs and Panchs had already been elected unopposed in the Phase-III election. They include 40 Sarpanchs and 798 Panchs. Number of Sarpanch and Panch seats were also filled uncontested in first two phases as well.
Enthusiasm which was visible in first two phases of the District Development Council elections across all 10 districts of Jammu region was witnessed yet again in the third phase as voting continued in many polling stations till 3 pm beyond scheduled time of 7 am to 2 pm as large number of electorates had lined up at the polling booths before 2 pm. However, polling picked up at around 9 am because of the morning chill. Voting in first two hours has been less at almost all the constituencies.
People at many polling stations demanded that voting hours should be extended till 4 pm because of the harsh cold in the morning hours.
There was general demand among the electorates that the State Election Commission should use the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the District Development Council elections as well as by-polls to Sarpanch and Panch constituencies by replacing obsolete system of ballot papers which consumes lot of time leading to long queues of electorates and sometimes even less turnout.