Voting turnout touches 80 pc in Jammu, 52 in Kashmir

Long queues of voters in Kashmir (left) and Rajouri (right) on Tuesday. -Excelsior pics by Shakeel & Gafoor Bhat
Long queues of voters in Kashmir (left) and Rajouri (right) on Tuesday. -Excelsior pics by Shakeel & Gafoor Bhat

1159 elected unopposed, majority of results out

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Nov 20: Jammu recorded further improvement in the voting percentage in second phase of Panchayat elections held today with 80.4 per cent electorates exercising their right to franchise in seven districts of the region while Kashmir division also registered significant voter turnout of 52.2 per cent.
Overall voting percentage in 14 districts of the State, where 281 Sarpanch and 1286 Panch constituencies went to polls today, stood at 71.1, official sources said.
As many as 4041 candidates for both Sarpanch and Panch constituencies were in the fray, sources said, adding that soon after polling ended at 2 pm, the counting for all Sarpanch and Panch constituencies started and majority of results had been declared by midnight tonight.

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“Both voting and counting were conducted smoothly. No major incident of violence barring verbal duels between candidates and their supporters, was reported from any poll-bound area today,” Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma told the Excelsior.
Verma said firing and shelling by the Pakistani troops along Line of Control (LoC) in Mendhar sector failed to disrupt the polling, which went on uninterruptedly with people, unmindful of Pakistani provocation, queued up to cast their votes. However, shelling and firing stopped around 11 am.
The polling stations were not required to be shifted anywhere, he said, adding the voters lined up enthusiastically at all polling stations along the LoC, the Divisional Commissioner said.
Ninety Sarpanchs and 1069 Panchs had already been declared elected as unopposed for Phase-II polls.
Like the first phase, Udhampur district again recorded highest turnout in Phase-II with 83.9 percent voting followed closely by Rajouri, where 83.5 percent polling was registered. Doda and Poonch districts had an equal voting percentage of 81.7.
Kathua district accounted for 78.7 percent voting, Kishtwar 77.8 and Ramban 72.3, the lowest in Jammu region.
Overall lowest voting turnout was reported from South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, where only one percent voters turned out to cast their votes.
Significantly, Kupwara and Bandipora districts in the Kashmir valley recorded massive voting percentage which figures at 69.7 and 66.3 respectively while in Ganderbal, 27.4 per cent turnout was reported. Voting percentage stood at 11.2 in Baramulla.
Kargil and Leh districts in Ladakh region too had almost similar voting percentage figures of 66.5 and 66.3 respectively.
“The voting in all seven districts of Jammu region was held peacefully without any untoward incidents, barring verbal duels among candidates and their supporters, which were resolved amicable by the administration,” sources said, adding the counting also progressed smoothly and majority of results had been declared by midnight tonight.
Third phase of polling is scheduled to be held on November 24.
In the first phase, overall voting percentage stood at 74.1 with 79.5 percent in Jammu and 64.5 percent in Kashmir divisions.
The nine-phased elections, being conducted on the non-party basis, began on Saturday.
The National Conference, PDP and the CPI(M) have announced to stay away from the electoral exercise due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court. However, number of active workers of these parties were in the fray in Panchayat elections in all three regions of the State.
The Election authorities had set up 2,179 polling stations across the State, including 828 in Kashmir division and 1,351 in Jammu division for second phase of polling today.
In Kashmir, 490 polling stations had been categorized as hypersensitive and in the Jammu division 111, sources said, adding that there are 3,29,818 electors for Sarpanch seats and 2,07,796 for Panch constituencies.
Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements for Panchayat elections with deployment of para-military Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu and Kashmir Police at all polling stations as per their categorization.
The boycott call (for the elections) given by mainstream parties like National Conference, PDP and CPM and threats of the militants, again came a cropper with voters giving thumbs up to the Panchayat elections in all three regions of the State turning out in large numbers to cast their votes, which was evident from the voting percentage as well as long queues of the voters outside polling stations in all Panchayats, which went to the polls. The dull response to the voting was confined to Anantnag district only.
Queues were much longer than what were seen in the recently concluded Municipal elections in many rural areas.
Soon after the voting was over at 2 pm, the counting of votes was taken up for all Sarpanch and Panch segments and the process was by and large completed by midnight tonight.