LAST NAIL IN TERROR COFFIN: 70% VOTE
HUGE SNUB TO PAK, SEPARATISTS
STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR/JAMMU: Defying separatists’ election boycott call and braving cold weather, voters turned out in large numbers on Tuesday to record over 70 per cent polling without any incident in 15 constituencies in the first of the five- phase polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Election Commission officials said the poll percentage figures released so far were tentative and that it was likely to go up by two to three per cent as voting was going on at some places even after closure of voting at 4:00 PM. Polling began at 8:00 AM in cold wave conditions.
A 61 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the 2008 Assembly polls for these 15 seats–6 in Jammu division, five in Kashmir Valley and four in Ladakh. Today’s polling was spread over seven districts.
“Polling has gone absolutely peaceful without any incident. It was 100 per cent flawless polls and there was not a single incident which vitiates poll process,” Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi told reporters in Delhi.
In Jammu, Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula said at a press conference that 77 per cent votes were cast in Gurez, 70 per cent in Bandipora, 80 per cent in Sonawari, 76 per cent in Kangan, 53 per cent in Ganderbal, 75.6 per cent in Nobra, 66 per cent in Leh, 60 per cent in Kargil, 71 per cent in Zanskar, 68.83 per cent in Kishtwar, 72.54 per cent in Inderwal, 79 per cent in Doda, 70 per cent in Bhaderwah, 68 per cent in Ramban (SC) and 70 per cent in Banihal. He said the polling percentage may increase as details are awaited from some remote areas.
Narula maintained that the polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the constituency and in order to ensure that the polling is done in various inaccessible areas of the hilly districts 43 air sorties were done.
The Chief Electoral Officer said that the constituencies that went to the polls today were spread over seven districts for which as many as 1,787 polling station at 1,606 locations were set up, which included 85 critical and 558 hypersensitive ones.
In order to improve the voting experience of the voters 92 model polling stations were established with innovative facilities, Narula said and added that web casting was done on 159 polling stations and 148 digital and 118 video cameras were deployed.
Narula said that 255 micro observers were also deployed during today’s polling. The CEO said 123 candidates were in the fray for these 15 constituencies which comprised 10,61,275 numbers of electors including 5,58,178 male, 5,03,086 female and 11 third gender voters.
Dealing a serious blow to separatist politics, thousands of voters had lined up before polling stations with nearly 10.52 lakh voters being eligible to vote.
Separatist groups like all the factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls and a general strike as well.
A total of 123 candidates including seven ministers were in the fray with the ruling coalition partners National Conference and Congress and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party(PDP) and BJP fighting for the spoils.
Early morning chill and fog failed to dampen the spirits of the voters who had assembled at the polling stations an hour before the scheduled start of voting.
The voting time had to be extended in several polling stations to allow those voters, who were already inside the polling station premises, to cast their votes.