42% turnout, polling in 2nd phase of J&K polls peaceful
24 September 2002
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: More than 42 per cent of votes were cast during the second phase of polling in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections on Tuesday. The polling was spread over 28 constituencies in three districts - Jammu, Budgam and Srinagar. Srinagar recorded a turnout of 11 per cent. The turnout in Jammu and Budgam were 59 and 51 per cent respectively. In the urban areas of Srinagar the turnout was 7 per cent, with the Habbakadal constituency recording a turnout of just 1 per cent. The highest turnout in the Valley - 59 per cent - was in Chrar-e Sharif. Jammu''s Chhamb constituency recorded a turnout of 70 per cent — the highest of the day. Polling was peaceful, and no major incident of violence was reported. A grenade was lobbed at a polling station in Hazratbal after polling had concluded, but no damage was done. ''We are satisfied with the peaceful conduct of polls,'' said chief electoral officer Pramod Jain. The low turnout in Srinagar was caused both by the boycott call given by separatist groups and by the fear of militant violence. Monday night''s shootout in Srinagar''s Gogji Bagh area in which one policeman was killed and three policemen taken hostage (and later freed) obviously added to the climate of fear. However, polling was relatively brisk in Budgam and two rural constituencies in Srinagar, including Ganderbal, from where National Conference president Omar Abdullah contested. The turnout there was almost 35 per cent. There were complaints of coercion by security forces. Some mediapersons said they saw security men trying to persuade people to vote at Sanoorkalipora in the Beerwah constituency (Budgam district). Jain, however, refuted these allegations.