Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday recorded a total of 45.64 per cent polling in second phase of Lok Sabha Elections. While seventy per cent voting was recorded in Udhampur Lok Sabha seat, the trend of low turnout continued in Srinagar with 14.8 per cent voters exercising their franchise in the constituency where polling was held in tight security amid militant threats and boycott call by separatists. The polling for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir remained peaceful and incident-free, Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar told reporters.
In the 2014 general election, Srinagar had witnessed a turnout of 25.86 per cent which fell to 7.2 per cent in the 2017 Lok Sabha bypoll. Udhampur had witnessed 70.9 per cent polling in 2014. Kumar said Srinagar district recorded the lowest turnout of 7.69 per cent while Reasi district in Udhampur constituency recorded the highest of 73 per cent among the nine districts where polling was conducted Thursday in the state.
According to sources, as many as 90 polling booths, mostly in downtown Srinagar, saw no voting. Srinagar constituency had 1,716 polling stations. Ganderbal district recorded 16.7 per cent while in Budgam district, the turnout was 21.5 per cent, the CEO said.
Udhampur district recorded 69.8 per cent, followed by Kathua (69.7 per cent), Doda (61.5 per cent), Kishtwar (61 per cent) and Ramban (57.6 per cent). Kumar said there were no reports of any violence during the day. "The polling remained peaceful."
However, there was protest by a group of displaced Kashmiri migrants in Jammu after some of the members found their names missing in the voters list at a special polling station.
Over 29.6 lakh people in the two seats were eligible to vote to decide the fate of 24 candidates, including former Chief Minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and Union Minister Jitendra Singh who were contesting for Srinagar and Udhampur Parliamentary constituencies respectively.
For migrant voters of Srinagar constituency, 26 polling stations were set up with 21 in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in New Delhi. Out of 4,700 eligible to vote, 2,100 voters exercised their franchise.
Kashmiri migrants demanded a probe into missing of names in the voters list at a special polling station here. A group of people also staged protest for not setting up polling station at Talwara (Reasi) for over 600 migrant voters.
"No polling station was setup at Talwara migrant camp for voting. We have 673 votes here. DC Reasi first promised us polling station but later refused. We were told that buses will be given to us for ensuring voting at our places, but no vehicles were sent," a migrant leader told reporters.
The protesters raised slogans against district authorities of Reasi and the Election Commission. There was a problem with EVM at a polling station in Ramban district but it was later rectified.
Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in strength in and around polling stations in all three districts -- Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal -- of Srinagar constituency, the officials said.
Separatists had called for a shutdown in the three districts against the Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, authorities snapped mobile internet services in these districts as a precautionary measure. "The mobile internet service has been suspended as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order," an official said. The BSNL's broadband service was working, but its speed has been decreased.
Voters in border district of Kathua and Udhampur turned up in large numbers at polling booths this morning, officials said. Udhampur parliamentary seat had 2,710 polling stations. The family members of senior RSS functionary Chanderkant Sharma, who was killed along with his PSO by terrorists in Kishtwar last Tuesday, cast their votes at Kishtwar after performing the post-death rituals on 10th day.
A newly-married couple was seen in their wedding finery at a polling station in Udhampur town. The enthusiastic couple said youths should come out to vote. Raj Devi, 95, voted at a polling station in Chenani in Udhampur district. Authorities on Thursday order suspension of two poll officials including a presiding officer for dereliction of duty in Kishtwar.
In Srinagar, Abdullah is pitched against political greenhorns Aga Moshin of the PDP, Irfan Ansari of the People's Conference and Khalid Jehangir of the BJP. In Udhampur, prominent contestants include four Rajputs: Union minister Jitendra Singh seeking reelection on a BJP ticket, Dogra dynasty scion Vikramaditya Singh fighting as a Congress candidate, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan founder Choudhary Lal Singh and National Panthers party chairman Harsh Dev Singh.
"We made an attempt to have all women polling stations during this election. There were 25 such polling stations in total in both the constituencies. Other than that, we had 149 model polling stations as well," Kumar said.
The CEO said there were 1.5 lakh first time voters which included 1.2 lakh voters who were between the age of 18 years and 21 years. "95 per cent voters had photo-identity cards while 97 per cent voters had photographs on electoral rolls," he added.
Asked if the election authorities were mulling to prepone the ending time for polling in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in view of violence that led to death of one youth in Langate during the first phase, Kumar said they had received a request from police to this effect. "We are examining it," the CEO said.