M A I N   N E W S

21 pc polling in Srinagar
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 26
The Srinagar parliamentary constituency registered 21 per cent polling in a “totally violence-free atmosphere” that sealed the fate of 13 candidates today, showing an increase of 9 per cent from that of the last Lok Sabha elections.

The Chief Secretary, Mr S.S. Bloeria, addressing a press conference here this evening, said the peaceful conduct of the poll had been made possible by the efforts of the district administration, police and the security forces.

A girl was, however, injured when militants fired a rifle grenade towards a polling booth at Boys High School, Ichgam in Udgam district, today, the police said. The grenade missed the target and hit an adjacent house, injuring a girl identified as Nazia. An IED planted by suspected militants was detected and defused near a polling station at Shaheen Public School, Zadibal, here today.

Some people led by the NC MLA, Mr Ali Mohammad Sagar, indulged in hooliganism at a polling station in Khanyar. Other than that the polling was “totally violence free”, Mr B.L. Nimesh, chief electoral officer, said. He said the MLA and 41 others were arrested and an FIR was lodged against them. The MLA was later released on bail.

Except for three polling stations in Budgam district that were categorised as normal, all other 1,077 polling stations had been categorised as hyper-sensitive.

Giving Assembly-wise details, he said the Charar-e-Sharief constituency in Budgam district registered the highest polling 59 per cent, while Habbakadal in Srinagar registered the lowest at 1 per cent. The percentage registered in other constituencies included Kangan (41), Ganderbal (45), Hazratbal (8), Zadibal (4), Idgah (5), Khanyar (5), Amirakadal (5), Sonwar (12), Batamaloo (15), Chadoora (42), Budgam (18), Beerwah (24) and Khan Sahib (27).

About migrant voters of the constituency, he said 1,080 votes out of a total 2,452 were polled in Jammu, 37 in Udhampur, and 136 in Delhi. In Jammu, the Election Commission issued 37 postal ballots and 25 in Udhampur.

Referring to poll-related activities, the Chief Secretary said in all, 1,930 public meetings were held since the poll process was set into motion. Of these, 172 meetings were attended by over 1,000 persons each.

Kangan (Srinagar): As urchins engaged themselves in playing cricket on streets, voters in rural and urban areas presented different scenes. While rural voters made long queues outside many polling stations, those in urban areas stayed indoors on the day of polling in the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency on Monday.

Three news items pasted on a notice board inside a school here, where two polling stations had been set up, reflected the situation under which the elections were being held. These reports related to grenade attacks here last week in which nine persons were injured, autonomy demand made by National Conference president Omar Abdullah and arrests of a number of persons in different parts of the valley.

It was no different for octogenarian Nath Ji, who had a long wait in the queue outside a polling station set up in a local school in remote village of this area over 30 kms north-east of Srinagar. “I do not think I have ever missed an opportunity to cast my vote,” he says. A majority of his community members and relatives migrated from the valley over 14 years ago.

He, however, holds that it is important for him to exercise the right to vote and chose the “one who has been helpful”. He is not alone here as he has been taken care of by Muslims neighbours. He jostles with them in the long queue, waiting for his turn to enter the polling station to exercise his franchise.

Another youngster, Kumar Prince, also jostled with his village mates, old and young, to exercise his franchise for the first time. “My other family members have already cast their votes and are back home”, he said, while waiting outside the polling station. Facilities for migrant Kashmiri Pandits for voting had been provided at various places outside the valley for their respective constituencies here.

Many voters in the Kangan Assembly segment of this constituency complained of their names missing from lists, as police personnel had tough time in keeping them away from queues leading to polling booths. There were reports of ‘bogus voting’ in parts of the Ganderbal Assembly segment. As the heavy rush of these ‘bogus voters’ outside the polling booths in the Laar area of Ganderbal led to disturbance, the police had to use force and fired in air to chase away the trouble creators.

Kangan Assembly segment is represented by the National Conference. PDP minister Qazi Afzal represents the Ganderbal constituency after defeating Omar Abdullah from here in the 2002 assembly elections.

The scene was different as one moved towards urban areas in Srinagar, which had witnessed a series of militancy-related incidents over the past few days, creating scare and panic. At least 12 persons were injured when four grenades were fired on the premises of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) at MA Road here on Friday.

Out of 1176 votes at one polling booth at Kangan, 112 had been polled by 9.30 a.m., while 234 were polled out of 748 at Manigam in the Ganderbal segment by 10.15 am. Similarly at Laar in Ganderbal, 239 votes were polled out of 767 by 11 am.

But the scene was different in the interiors of Srinagar city. By noon, only one vote had been cast at three polling booths set up at Islamia School, Rajouri Kadal. While no one turned up at polling booths for Saifuddin Pora and Rajouri Kadal, only one vote was cast at the polling booth for the Zadibal segment in the school.


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