Kashmir’s First Major Polls After Article 370 Abrogation

Kashmir’s First Major Polls After Article 370 Abrogation
Kashmir’s First Major Polls After Article 370 Abrogation

Srinagar/Pulwama, May 13: Amid tight security arrangements, voting began in Srinagar parliamentary constituency in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, with more than 17.4 lakh electorate eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 24 candidates.

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This is the first major poll in Kashmir since J&K special status was abrogated by the BJP government on August 5, 2019 and the erstwhile state was also downgraded into two union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The voters in the entire Srinagar parliamentary constituency which is spread over five districts — Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal in central Kashmir and Pulwama and Shopian in south Kashmir districts — were seen heading towards polling stations early in the morning, the officials said.
Polling began at 7 am in 2,135 polling stations across the constituency and is going on peacefully with no untoward incident reported, the officials said.
Voters were seen at various polling stations in Pulwama.
At Samboora village in Pulwama, an erstwhile separatist bastion, the voting was underway amid peaceful atmosphere. At the four polling stations housed in Samboora Higher Secondary School, out of total voters of over 3400, at least 71 were polled in the first hour.
“I am voting first time, ” said a 45-year-old voter. “I am voting for safeguarding our identity which is under threat.”
The polling officials said the voter turnout is going to increase in coming hours.
Srinagar Returning Officer Bilal Mohi-ud-Din on the eve of polling said they anticipate a good voter turnout.
“I appeal to voters, especially the young, to exercise their right to vote and contribute to the strengthening of democracy,” he said on Sunday evening.
The main contest here is between National Conference’s influential Shia leader Ruhullah Mehdi, Peoples Democratic Party’s youth leader Waheed Para, who is out on bail in a terror-related case and Apni Party’s Mohammad Ashraf Mir.
The BJP’s absence from three Kashmir seats for the first time in decades has drawn criticism.
Traditionally, Srinagar residents have avoided voting due to separatist boycott calls. However, this time, things are different and most separatists are either in jail or have chosen silence.
In the absence of a boycott threat, the voting percentage is likely to break all previous records in the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. In 2019 Srinagar witnessed a turnout of 14.43 per cent Lok Sabha polls.
A total of 17,47,810 voters are enrolled for fourth phase, comprising 8,75,938 male and 8,71,808 female voters, alongside 64 third-gender electorates. (Agencies)