Baramulla rises from terror shadow, sees record 59% turnout : The Tribune India

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Baramulla rises from terror shadow, sees record 59% turnout

Baramulla rises from terror shadow, sees record 59% turnout


Naseer Ganai

Srinagar, May 20

In the absence of boycott calls from separatists, the high-profile Baramulla constituency in the Kashmir valley on Monday witnessed 59 per cent polling, the highest in its electoral history. Sopore, once considered a militant hub and the home town of late separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, also sprang a surprise by reporting 40 per cent polling during the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

This comes after the Srinagar constituency had seen a record turnout of 38.49 per cent on May 13 during the fourth phase. This too was the highest-ever polling since 1996, the Election Commission of India had said.

The voting took place in 2,103 polling stations across the Baramulla constituency, which witnessed a tripartite contest between National Conference’s Omar Abdullah, J&K Peoples Conference’s Sajad Lone and Awami Ittehad Party’s jailed candidate Engineer Rashid.

The 59 per cent turnout recorded in Baramulla contrasts starkly with previous elections, which saw only 5 per cent polling in 1989, 50 per cent in 1996, and 34 per cent in 2019.

In Sopore, the polling percentage surged from 4 per cent in 2019 to 44 per cent this time. “I am voting for the first time. With no boycott calls and no fear, I realise now that abstaining from voting was a mistake,” said a 38-year-old mechanic. “Previously, we boycotted polls because everyone else did. Now, people have decided to vote to elect a leader, who can effectively address our concerns,” he added.

Many voters at Sopore Degree College expressed that in the past boycott calls from separatists had deterred them from voting. “Even the Jamaat-e-Islami is voting now, which used to boycott polls,” said a middle-aged person, while an elderly resident of Sopore said the voting percentage would be high as there was no longer any stigma associated with voting.

Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Pandurang K Pole said Gurez saw the lowest poll percentage (45.2) as most people might have migrated, while Handwara saw the highest voting (66.76%). There was zero violence, he added.

The three main candidates contesting had carried out spirited campaigns. While Omar and Lone were targeting each other over policy issues, current political affiliations, Article 370 abrogation and past performances, Engineer Rashid’s son Abrar Rashid ran an emotional campaign for his father’s release from Tihar.

#Baramulla #Kashmir #Srinagar


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