M A I N   N E W S

About 65% turnout
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 23
About 65 per cent of polling was registered in six constituencies of Ganderbal and Rajouri districts in the second phase of elections today, which passed off peacefully barring stray incidents of stone pelting in Ganderbal area.

The tentative poll percentage, which is expected to rise further with more information from some areas, has shown a remarkable rise in the overall percentage as compared to the last elections held in 2002. There were no reports of any violence and some of the EVMs rendered non-functional had been replaced immediately in Ganderbal district.

While giving the details of the percentage of the votes that were caste during today's elections chief electoral officer B. R. Sharma said: “In Kangan, the poll percentage was 61 when reports last came in to us, in Ganderbal, the poll percentage was above 44, and the data from 14 polling stations was yet to come, in Nowshera, 70 per cent of electorate caste their vote, the figure was 73 in Darhal, it was 67 in Rajouri and in Kalakote, 73 per cent voters exercised their franchise.”

He added that the figures were tentative and could increase as they were yet to collect data from various polling stations.

In 2002 elections the poll percentage in Nowshera, Darhal, Rajouri and Kalakote was 57.80, 46.61, 27.05 and 48.66, respectively.

The Amarnath land row and unemployment were at the back of voters’ mind in Ganderbal and Kangan. While the separatists’ boycott call had little impact in the wake of recent unexpected turnout in the three constituencies of Bandipore district, the mood was surprisingly without any influence of “coercion or fear” in the two constituencies. Thus, it settled down on issues like the Amarnath land row, unemployment, better public facilities that confront the common man in day-to-day life.



Shutdown in Srinagar; clashes in Baramulla
Kumar Rakesh/Shariq Majeed
Tribune News Service

Grenade attacks on candidates’ houses

Some militant hurled a grenade towards the house of Abdul Rashid Ganai, Panthers Party candidate for the Kangan constituency, at Arhama, the police said. In another incident, militants hurled a grenade and fired towards the residence of Mohammad Abdullah Dar, candidate of the Democratic Nationalist Party in Sopore. The grenade exploded in the premises of the house but no harm was caused.

Srinagar/Rajouri, November 23
Srinagar observed a complete shutdown today as its neighbouring Ganderbal district went for polls while Baramulla in south Kashmir, where two youths were killed in firing yesterday, saw day-long clashes between protestors and security personnel.

Large number of protesters collected in Khanpora in old Baramulla town, which has traditionally been more restive, and they tried to march through the area. They raised pro-freedom slogans and lashed out at authorities for the death of two youths yesterday.

Locals said security forces in the old town prevented crowd from marching and lathicharged and fired tear gas shells. Though there was no official count of injuries, locals said over 30 locals were injured in clashes. Official sources said at least 10 of their men were also injured.

The summer capital of the state remained shut throughout the day as security personnel threw a cordon around city to ensure that there is no unwanted movement of people to adjacent Ganderbal. Separatists’ call for Ganderbal march was foiled today.

Meanwhile, supporters of political parties and independent candidates clashed in three assembly segments in Rajouri district, which went for polls today.

In Darhal constituency, NC supporters of party candidate Choudhary Liaqat allegedly hurled stones at the polling station in the Badi Darhal area, prompting the BSF personnel manning it open fire in air to control the situation. Five persons were injured in the incident, reports said. In Kalakote assembly segment, there were reports of violent clashes between supporters of NC candidate Rashpal Singh and independent candidate Ashok Sharma. At Brow polling station in Kalakote, four persons were reportedly injured in clashes between supporters of the NC and independent candidate. At Taryath polling station also, security forces had to fire in air to control the supporters of the same candidates.

There were reports of clashes between supporters of Singh and Sharma at Bandi polling station. At a polling station in Jawahar Nagar area of Rajouri constituency, supporters of independent candidate Muhammad Sharief Tariq and BJP candidate Vibodh Gupta resorted to stone pelting disrupting polling for about an hour.



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