M A I N   N E W S

Ignoring boycott call, Kashmiris
line up to vote in first phase
55% polling, Poonch hits 63%
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 17
Barring some incidents of violence in some pockets and lack of information from remote and inaccessible areas, 55 per cent of total eligible voters cast their votes in 10 assembly constituencies in the first phase of elections in Jammu and Kashmir today.

This marks a substantial increase in the state average as compared to the last elections held in 2002, despite the anti-election campaign by separatists in Kashmir. There has been a slight decline in the poll percentage in Gurez, Kargil and Leh areas due to freezing temperatures.

Chief electoral officer B.R. Sharma here this evening said that five cases of complaints had been received, which included two from Poonch district in Jammu region, one from Kargil in Ladakh and two from Bandipore in Kashmir division. The complaints were being looked into and the overall poll percentage would be final by late tonight after the receipt of reports from remote and inaccessible areas, he said. The overall tentative district percentage recorded was 45 in Bandipore, 54 in Leh, 55 in Kargil and 63 in Poonch, Sharma said while addressing a press conference accompanied by DGP Kuldeep Khoda.

Tight security arrangements were made for the polling in the two constituencies of Bandipore and Sonawari in north Kashmir to avoid any trouble in view of the “Bandipore Chalo” call of the separatist coordination committee.

The Bandipore constituency registered about 43 per cent polling as compared to 31 per cent in the last elections, while the Sonawari constituency registered 42 per cent as compared to 56 per cent in the last elections.

The Gurez border constituency that remains cut off from the rest of the state during winter months has registered 74 per cent voting as compared to 76 per cent in the last elections, the chief electoral officer said. It witnessed massive campaigning in the absence of separatist influence, but the polling was hindered due to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches that disrupted road traffic to the area and between the distant areas within.

There are 19 candidates in Bandipore, 22 in Sonawarai and six in Gurez constituency.

In Ladakh region, where temperature in different areas remained at least 10° C below zero, the poll percentage was recorded at 55 per cent each in Leh and Nobra constituencies, 57 in Zanskar and 48 per cent in the Kargil constituency. In the last elections, Zanskar and Kargil had registered above 74 per cent polling while there was no polling in Leh and Nobra as the candidates were elected uncontested.

The three constituencies of Poonch-Haveli, Surankote and Mendhar in Poonch district of Jammu region registered the poll percentage of 64, 58 and 65, respectively. It has shown an increase as compared to the last elections from 60 per cent each in Poonch-Haveli and Mendhar and 40 per cent in the Surankote constituency.

The chief electoral officer said no incident was reported from Gurez while three complaints were received from Bandipora. These were verified and two were found not correct. However, in Poshwari polling station, there was a scuffle between candidates and agents of the NC and the PDP. A report has been sought from the district election officer.

In Inderkote, in the Sonawari constituency some people, whose names were not in the voters’ list, tried to create a scene and the security personnel fired in the air to chase them away.

Nobody, he added, was injured. He said at the Salaskote polling station supporters of the two political parties scuffled during which the EVM machine was damaged.

Sharma said in Mendhar there were some complaints that were verified and most of them were found incorrect. He said at athe polling station at Gursai the polling party was removed on the complaint that they stayed with the relative of a particular candidate, which was against the instructions of the election commissioner.

A case has been registered against the erring polling staff, who were placed under suspension. He said no incident had been reported from Nobra, Leh, Zanskar, Surankote and Poonch Haveli.



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