EC puts final turnout in J&K 1st round polls at over 47%
18 September 2002
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: The Government on Wednesday put the final turnout for the first phase of Jammu and Kashmir elections at more than 47 per cent. ''The final turnout after opening the diaries of the presiding officers of all the 23 segments that went to polls on Monday is 47.28 per cent,'' said Pramod Jain, Jammu and Kashmir''s chief electoral officer. In the last polls for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 1996, turnout for the five districts that voted on Monday was 61.1 per cent. Turnout for the whole of Jammu and Kashmir in that election was 57.63 per cent. At the end of the nine-hour polls on Monday, Jain had put turnout at 43.6 per cent but said it was expected to rise by a few percentage points after election officials give their final figures. However, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee late on Tuesday called the turnout ''satisfactory'', and his deputy, Lal Krishna Advani, said there were no reports of voter coercion. A total of 1.49 million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the first phase of the vote. The rest of Jammu and Kashmir heads to the polls in three more rounds, the last being held October 8. Vajpayee said he expected higher turnout at the next phase of polls on Tuesday, when Srinagar and Jammu both head to vote. Of the districts voting on Monday, Kargil recorded turnout of 75.89 per cent, followed by Kupwara at 55.39. The figures for the southern Poonch and Rajouri districts were 52.40 and 44.40 per cent respectively, while the lowest turnout was in northern Baramulla district at 39.99 per cent. The Buddhist- dominated Leh district was also up for the first round but its two candidates were uncontested.