Low turnout again in J&K civic polls

In phase two, Kashmir Valley records just 3.4% polling as against the 78.6% registered by Jammu’
The Kashmir Valley recorded a turnout of just 3.4% in the second phase of the urban local body elections in the State on Wednesday in contrast with the Jammu region’s 78.6%, taking the average turnout to 31.3%. “In Jammu division, 78.6% polling was witnessed in 214 wards, while Kashmir division witnessed average 3.4% polling in 49 wards with Bandipora recording the highest 35.6%. In Jammu, highest turnout of 84.4% was recorded in Reasi,” Shaleen Kabra, Chief Electoral Officer of the State, said. The first phase of polls in the Kashmir Valley had witnessed a 8.3% turnout. “The combined percentage remains 8.3% in Kashmir division for the two phases,” Mr. Kabra said. Sixty-five wards have already been won uncontested for the second phase. The summer capital Srinagar recorded just 2.24% turnout in 20 wards, with just 4,169 voters casting their vote out of 1,86,085. The images of a civilian from Srinagar’s Chattabal area, Adil Ahmad Yadoo, being mowed down by a police vehicle on May 5 this year is still vivid in the memory of voters here. Of the 8,740 voters, none came out to vote in Chattabal ward. “We have witnessed a bloody year so far. These polls are being projected as a sign of normalcy in Kashmir. The voting percentage in my area is the peaceful way to put across our anger and frustration over the Kashmir issue,” said Majid Khan, a neighbour of deceased Yadoo. In the volatile Tankipora area of the city, only eight came out to vote out of 10,369 voters. Most wards in Srinagar registered fewer than 100 votes all day. The poor voter turnout emboldens the chances of the BJP and the Congress candidates to win the wards for the first time in J&K’s electoral history as both regional parties, the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, are boycotting the polls. In south Kashmir’s Anantnag, five of the nine wards witnessed no polling all day. Witness to many encounters and street protests this year, Anantnag witnessed the lowest, less than 2%, voting. Only 374 (1.13%) votes were cast in 16 wards, comprising 32,904 voters. The boycott means Kashmiri migrant Pandit Sheila Koul Handoo, 62, a BJP candidate from Cheeni Chowk, has won. “Over 450 migrant votes have been polled in my favour. I am the winner from the ward,” said Ms. Handoo, whose husband Shadi Lal Bhat is contesting from another municipal ward and hoping to win it too. The BJP has fielded 30 migrant Pandit candidates and six have already won uncontested in south Kashmir. All five districts of Kashmir Valley — Anantnag, Bandipora, Baramulla, Kupwara and Srinagar — witnessed the impact of the boycott and the turnout stayed under 5%, except for Bandipora, which recorded 32% turnout. There were long queues at many booths in Bandipora, where is home town of rebel Peoples Democratic Party MLC Yasir Reshi and sitting Congress MLA Usman Majeed.
“We have come to vote to dislodge the monopoly of the NC and PDP, both run by families. It’s a vote for change,” said a voter at Inderkote Sumbal on the condition of anonymity.
Day passes off peacefully
No violence was reported during the second phase of polling. Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said security forces managed the polls peacefully “because of their coordination”. “We are hopeful that the two coming phases will be equally peaceful,” said DGP Singh.Anti-militancy operations came down in the state during the run-up to the pollsK. No major operation was carried out this month.
Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/poor-turnout-in-jk-civic-polls/article25185607.ece

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