Low voter turnout of 13.63% in Anantnag

People queue up to cast votes in Anantnag town on Tuesday. — Excelsior/Sajad Dar
People queue up to cast votes in Anantnag town on Tuesday. — Excelsior/Sajad Dar

Cop dies, 20 poll officials injured in mishaps
Mehbooba’s home segment records 2.03% polling

Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, Apr 23: Voting in Anantnag district of the Parliamentary constituency remained by and large peaceful amid tight security with voter turnout recorded below the expectations as in majority of the areas people didn’t vote while in some hilly areas of the district the voting turnout was better.
In the six Assembly segments of Anantnag district, out of 5,29,256 votes, only 71,923 were polled while majority stayed away from the poll process.
The poll percentage was recorded at 13.63 percent in the district with Bijbehara Assembly segment recording the lowest turnout of 2.03 percent and Pahalgam recording highest turnout of 20.37 percent. In Bijbehara Assembly segment, 1893 votes were polled and in Pahalgam17, 757. Click here to watch video
Anantnag Assembly segment witnessed turnout of 3.47 percent, Dooru 17.29 percent, Kokernag 19.50 percent and Shangus 15.10 percent. The votes polled in these Assembly segments were 3030, 14470, 18,411 and 13,332 respectively.
The Anantnag district has 529256 electors including 269603 males, 257540 females, 2102 service electors (2091 males and 11 females) and 11 transgender voters.
Kokernag Assembly segment has the highest number of 93874 voters (48742 males, 44948 females and 180 service voters) while as Dooru has the lowest 79029 electors, including 40764 males, 37889 females and 374 service voters.
Assembly segment of Bijbehara has 93516 voters (47067 males, 46222 females and 227 service voters), Shangus 89405 voters (45360 males, 43010 females and 1031 service voters), Pahalgam 86735 (44115 males, 42498 females and 121 service voters) and Anantnag 86699 (43555 males, 42973 females and 169 service voters).
In 2014 Parliament elections, the district recorded a polling percentage of 37.76 and today it dropped by a huge margin of over 24 percent despite no violence before or during the polling.
In the remote areas of Daksum, Kamad in Verinag, Shangus, Kapran, Devsar and Qazigund, people did come to vote but it was below the expectations of the political parties. There were voters waiting in queues in these areas but the enthusiasm was missing.
One of the voters Ghulam Muhammad said that the area lacked development and he voted for betterment of the area. “Everything is okay, but we need development as well. Look around, see the condition of roads, see the developmental scenario we have got nothing and we need someone to take care of such needs as well. This is the reason I am voting”, he said.
The home constituency of People’s Democratic Party president, Mehbooba Mufti, witnessed cold response to polling as majority of the voters stayed away and the Assembly segment of Bijbehara witnessed lowest voter turnout of 2.04 percent.
A group of people who had voted in the morning and were standing outside Baba Mohalla Polling Station near the ancestral home of Mehbooba were angry with her. They said that they voted against her for disappointing them.
“We are voting to safeguard the special status of the State. Mehbooba Mufti has given us nothing but bloodbath. When all this mayhem started, if she would have stepped down, maybe, we would have considered her and voted in her favor today. These days, she is shedding tears”, they said.
Half a kilometer away on the National Highway was the polling station where Mehbooba voted. The polling station was shifted from the interiors of the town to the main highway for security reasons. There was a little bit hustle bustle and large security presence. But mostly the relatives and some well wishers of Mehbooba only came out to vote and majority stayed away.
A group of women standing outside the polling station were waiting for Mehbooba to cast her vote and as she voted they followed the suit. “I will cast my vote in favor of Mehbooba Mufti because she belongs to this place. Tomorrow, we can go and ask her about what she promises today. She has been making all the efforts to safeguard the special status of the State; she has been on the front. She is the one who we are going to choose”, said Ambreena at PHE polling station Bijbehara.
The PDP president came out to the Polling Station at around 2:30 p.m. to cast her vote. She was accompanied by several of her workers. Her daughter also later cast vote but brother and former Minister, Tasaduq Mufti, didn’t cast his vote as he is outside State for long.
After casting her vote, the PDP president told reporters waiting outside the Polling Station that “this time my father Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed is not with me but his workers who have worked for him are still there.” She hoped that the workers of her father will ensure her victory.
Asked about low voter turnout in Bijbehara, Mehbooba said: “I am hopeful of good results.”
And in a bizarre incident a National Conference polling agent was roughed up by the PDP workers for bogus voting in Bijbehara. The incident took place in the polling station of Mehbooba Mufti. The security forces on guard in the Polling Station intervened and calmed down the workers of the both the parities.
In Kanalwan village of Bijbehara assembly segment, there were three Polling Stations with over 2500 votes. Not a single vote was cast in two polling stations of the village while 18 votes were cast in one of the polling stations.
In one of the polling stations in Anantnag town, no one came to vote and only polling agents of various parties voted there. The poll staff was anxiously waiting for the voters throughout the day but they didn’t turn up.
There were minor incidents of stone pelting at several places in Anantnag district but by and large the voting remained peaceful with complaints of faulty EVMs at several places which were later replaced.
A policeman was killed and over 20 persons including 10 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel who were returning from poll duties were injured in road mishaps, one of them allegedly caused due to stone pelting, in Kokernag area of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district this evening.
A speeding vehicle (TATA 407) turned turtle near Zalangam, resulting in on the spot death of the Selection Grade Constable Hilal Ahmad Khan of Tral, Pulwama and injuries to several other persons including CRPF personnel on board.
In another mishap at Sagam, allegedly caused after a group of youth pelted stones on a vehicle carrying poll staff and security force personnel, 13 persons including poll staff and security force personnel were injured.
The injured include 10 CRPF men and all of them have been admitted in District Hospital Anantnag and SDH Kokernag. All the injured were taken to Sub-District hospital Kokernag where from seven critically wounded were referred to district hospital Anantnag.
Separatists had called for a valley-wide shutdown against polling which disrupted normal life in Kashmir with shops and businesses shut and traffic off the roads.
Security forces were heavily deployed in Anantnag district for smooth conduct of polls as authorities apprehending violence are holding the elections in the constituency in three phases. The polling hours were reduced in Anantnag constituency due to security concerns. It started at 7 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m.
Over 100 additional companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were deployed to augment an already existing large contingent of police and CAPF personnel deployed on poll duty in Anantnag. The army was also patrolling in sensitive areas for area domination so that militants may not disrupt the polls.
The first phase passed off peacefully and in the second phase of polling, Kulgam district is going to vote on April 28 while in the third and last phase Shopian and Pulwama are voting on May 6.
There are 18 candidates in the fray for Anantnag constituency including Mehbooba Mufti. The Congress has fielded its state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir while former High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi is contesting on the National Conference ticket.
The other candidates in the fray are Sofi Yousuf of Bhartiya Janta Party, Nisar Ahmad Wani of Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party, Ch. Zaffar Ali of Jammu Kashmir People’s Conference, Sanjay Kumar Dhar of Manav Adhikar Party, Surinder Singh of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) and Imtiyaz Ahmad Rather, Ridwana Sanam, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat, Zubair Masoodi, Ali Mohammad Wani, Gh Mohammad Wani, Kyasir Ahmed Sheikh, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, Shams Khwaja and Mirza Sajad Hussain Beigh, all independents.

Assembly      Total             Total votes          %age of total
segment        electors       polled                    votes polled
Anantnag        86565           3004                     3.47
Dooru             78684          13598                    17.28
Kokernag         93897         18174                    19.36
Shangus          88431          13346                    15.09
Bijbehara         93289          1905                      2.04
Pahalagm        86631          17649                    20.37
                       527497       67676                    12.83
Migrants Votes                   4101
Grand Total                        71777                    13.61