Lowest turnout so far in polls; Kulgam records 10.32% voting

A man carrying his mother on shoulders to cast her vote at a polling station in Gulzarpur, Kulgam as people wait in queue for exercising their right to franchise on Monday. (UNI).
A man carrying his mother on shoulders to cast her vote at a polling station in Gulzarpur, Kulgam as people wait in queue for exercising their right to franchise on Monday. (UNI).

Security officers among 10 injured in clashes
Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Apr 29: Voting in Kulgam district of Anantnag Parliamentary constituency remained by and large peaceful amid tight security with voter turnout recorded below the expectations at 10.32 percent 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 four Assembly segments of Kulgam district, out of 3.45 lakh votes, only 35,524 were polled while majority stayed away from the poll process.
The overall poll percentage of the district was recorded at 10.32 percent. Noorabad, Devsar, Kulgam and Hom Shalibugh recorded 20.5 percent, 16.84 percent, 2.38 percent and 1.13 percent voter turnout respectively.
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In Noorabad, 15842 votes were polled while as 15292 votes were cast in Devsar. In Kulgam, 2333 electorates cast ballot while only 893 people voted in Home Shalibugh.
The Kulgam district, which comprised four Assembly segments of Kulgam, Devsar, Noorabad and Hom Shalibugh, has 3,45,489 electors including 1,79,607 males, 1,64,604 females, 1,265 service electors and 13 transgender voters.
Kulgam Assembly segment has the highest number of 98,298 voters (51,051 males, 46,818 females, 455 service voters and 4 transgender voters) while as Noorabad has the lowest 77,171 electors, including 40,093 males, 36,886 females, 188 service voters and 4 transgender voters.
Assembly segment of Devsar has 91288 voters (47467 males, 43324 females, 492 service voters and five transgender voters), and HS Bugh segment has 78669 voters (40996 males, 37576 females and 127 service voters).
Polls in the district where 76 additional companies of Central forces were deployed remained by and large peaceful with incidents of stone pelting reported from several areas. The troops fired tear smoke to disperse the stone pelting youth who were trying to disrupt the polling.
The places where stone pelting was reported include Mazgam, Kulgam town, Bugam, Watalhama, Tule Nowpora, Qaimoo, Kujar, Ashmuji and Kellam.
Ten persons were injured in these clashes including two security force officers. Two persons Khalid Bashir and Shahida were injured at Ashmuji in teargas shelling by security forces.
Two more were hit by pellets at Tule Nowpora and they have been identified as Faisal Naik and Mushtaq Ahmad.
Three persons Waseem Ahmad, Waheed Ahmad and Shakir Ahmad of Kujar Kulgam were hit by pellets and they have been referred to SMHS hospital in Srinagar.
Two security force personnel including DSP Tral, Aijaz Ahmad who was on poll duty in Kulgam was also injured in the stone pelting besides a Sub-Inspector of the SSB.
At Kund and Panzgam Nad areas of Devsar assembly segment people were waiting in long queues to cast their ballot. Majority of them were voting for a change. In Noorabad Assembly segment there were long queues at DH Pora Polling Station No. 2 and DH pora Bungam.
A few middle-aged people at polling station at Devsar area of Kulgam district, said that their vote was for protecting the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and hereditary state subject law guaranteed under Article 35 A. “We want RSS and BJP to stay away from Kashmir soil and that’s why we are voting,” said Abdur Rashid Dar, a mason by profession.
His neighbor, Ghulam Mohiudin Khan, said that he didn’t boycott and cast his ballot. When asked about fear factor, he said that there is no fear. “It is an individual choice whether to vote or not. But I cast my ballot to choose a candidate who can better represent us”, he said.
When one travels from hills in Devsar to the plains in Kulgam assembly segment the scene was different. The polling stations were deserted and unconcerned young boys were busy in playing cricket outside a polling booth set up amid tight security cover at Yaripora area of Kulgam.
For Subhan Ahmed Khanday, 59, voting is a futile exercise. He decided to boycott this time citing exploitation by the politicians in fray as the major reason. “They fill their coffers and we are always being asked to vote while nothing happens,” he said.
In Bugam village of Kulgam district, there were five polling stations – Bugam A, Bugam B, Bugam C, Bugam D and Bun Bugam. Not a single vote was polled in these polling Stations and the Poll staff had a long wait and not a single person turned up to cast ballot.
In Tarigam village of Kulgam district only a few people cast their ballot while majority stayed away. In Khudwani area of Hom Shalibugh, no one cast his ballot.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K, Shailendra Kumar this evening told a press conference that the polls in Kulgam were incident-free. He said that the overall percentage recorded in the district in today’s polling was 10.3 cent with the highest in Noorabad segment, recording at 20.58 per cent.
The CEO said that for the smooth polling across the district, 433 polling stations were set up out of which 20 were model polling stations. “Moreover 4 all women polling stations were also setup across the district”, he added.
He said that with the completion of the second phase, the overall poll percentage of Anantnag constituency so far is 12.35.
He further elaborated that the total percentage of voting till date in various parliamentary constituencies in the state including Baramulla, Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampur and Anantnag was recorded at 47.06 per cent with total votes polled at around 3364104 out of 7149047 total electorates.
The CEO complimented voters, political parties, contesting candidates, media, polling staff and security forces for smooth and peaceful conduct of polling under IV Phases in the state.
Regarding the health of e-rolls, the CEO said that 43 polling stations were setup for webcasting.
The CEO informed that two general observers, one expenditure observer, one police observer, 68 micro observers besides 1732 polling staff ensured the smooth conduct of the voting in this phase.
The candidates in the fray are Hasnain Masoodi of Jammu Kashmir National Conference, Sofi Yousuf of Bhartiya Janta Party, Ghulam Ahmad Mir of Indian National Congress, Mehbooba Mufti of Jammu Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, Nisar Ahmad Wani of Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party, Choudhary Zaffar Ali of Jammu Kashmir Peoples 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, Shams Khwaja, Ali Mohammad Wani, Gh Mohammad Wani, Kyasir Ahmed Sheikh, Manzoor Ahmad Khan and Mirza Sajad Hussain Beigh, all independents.