Srinagar Records Highest Voter Turnout Since 1987

14 December 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: People in Kashmir valley today braved chilly weather conditions, defied separatist boycott call and turned a blind eye towards the fear psychosis caused due to recent militant attacks to exercise their franchise in the fourth and final phase of polling in Kashmir valley. In Srinagar, voters broke turn out records of 2008, 2002 and 1996 Assembly elections and voted in large numbers since militancy broke out in Kashmir in 1989. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who is contesting from Sonwar and Beerwa today cast his vote this morning in Burn Hall School Srinagar. However, his father and National Conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah, missed as he is undergoing treatment in London. Omar told reporters at the Polling Station that he is hopeful of his party's victory. 'The results would throw a surprise', he said. He added his party may lose some seats but 'we are going to win those seats which we have had not represented in the past 20 years.' People's Democratic Party (PDP) patron and former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today cast his vote in Bijbehara at his home town. After casting his vote he expressed confidence that there will be a decisive mandate in favour of his party. 'In Jammu and Kashmir, the only alternative party is the PDP,' he said. Mufti said that there would be no need of any coalition as the PDP will get a decisive mandate this time. 'My impression is that the PDP has a positive agenda as we had presented in 2002 and implemented. People have faith that if we come to power, we will improve and solve problems here. The elections have got legitimacy, I am happy there is peace, those who want to vote are voting and they have faith in vote. The people of Jammu and Kashmir will have to decide,' he said. The Chief Electoral Officer, Umang Narula, told a press conference here this evening that in 8 Assembly Constituencies of Srinagar district, Hazratbal Assembly constituency recorded 29.36 percent, Zadibal Assembly constituency 23.64 percent, Eidgah Assembly constituency recorded 27.79 percent, Khanyar Assembly constituency 26.12 percent , Habba Kadal Assembly constituency 21.01 percent, Amira Kadal Assembly constituency 24.81 percent , Sonwar Assembly constituency 44.17 percent and Batmaloo Assembly constituency recorded 24.34 percent voter turnout. Hazratbal, Zadibal, Eidgah, Khanyar, Habba Kadal, Amira Kadal, Sonwar and Batmaloo recorded a poll percentage of 28.91 percent, 17.30 percent, 22.07 percent, 17.41 percent, 11. 62 percent, 14.98 percent, 39.61 percent and 19.95 percent respectively in 2008. In 2002, the poll percentage in these constituencies was 7.11 percent, 4.78 percent, 4.74 percent, 4.21 percent, 3.08 percent, 3.06 percent, 9.96 percent and 4.00 percent respectively. In 1996 the poll percentage was 22.14 percent, 12.24 percent, 18.75 percent, 11.85 percent, 16.66 percent, 11.68 percent and 32.51 percent respectively in these constituencies with Batmaloo figures not available. However, in 1987 the overall percentage for these areas was at over 65. Narula said that about 49 percent voters exercised their franchise in the 4th phase of Assembly polls across 18 Assembly constituencies of four districts in the State including Srinagar, Anantnag, Shopian and Samba. The CEO said the highest turnout was recorded in Vijaypur Assembly constituency of district Samba while the lowest was recorded in Habba Kadal Assembly constituency of Srinagar district. Srinagar district recorded 28 percent polling, Anantnag 61 percent, Shopian, 50 percent while Samba district 81perent polling', he said. In 6 Assembly Constituencies of Anantnag district, Anantnag Assembly constituency recorded 38.67 percent, Dooru Assembly constituency 63.94 percent, Kokernag Assembly constituency 64.90 percent, Shangus Assembly constituency 67.27 percent, Bijbehara Assembly constituency 53.87 percent and Pahalgam Assembly constituency recorded 68.53 percent voter turnout. The two Assembly constituencies of Shopian district, Wachi Assembly constituency recorded 42.66 percent and Shopian Assembly constituency recorded 52.06 percent voter turnout. Besides, in two Assembly constituencies of Samba district, Samba recorded 77 percent and Vijaypur recorded 81.31percent voter turnout. The Chief Electoral Officer said 18 Assembly constituencies of the state that went to polls today were spread over four districts for which as many as 1890 polling stations were set up. The CEO also gave out that 182 candidates were in the fray for these 18 Assembly constituencies which comprised 14,73,050 electors including 767471 male and 705559 female voters besides 20 third gender voters Narula said that web casting was done in 155 Polling Stations while as at 48 polling stations digital and at 82 polling stations video cameras were installed to ensure free, fair and smooth conduct of polls. The CEO said that 18 General Observers, six Expenditure Observers, three Police Observers, two Awareness Observer besides 384 micro observers and about 8000 poll officials were deployed for the smooth conduct of polls. Narula said elaborate arrangements were made to facilitate voters to exercise their right to franchise in a free and fair atmosphere adding that the polling percentage may increase after consolidation of figures. The Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range, A G Mir said that they took some people into custody to prevent mobile voting in the fourth phase of polls in Kashmir. Voting across the three districts of Kashmir valley was by and large peaceful with stray incidents of clashes between workers of various political parties. Earlier in the morning voting was slow at many places due to subzero temperatures but at majority of the places it was brisk with people in long queues waiting outside Polling Stations. In Bemina area there were long queues outside Polling Stations with people waiting for their turn to cast vote. A voter, Javed Ahmad, who was waiting in a queue said that he is voting for change. 'We were trapped in flood waters for one month and we didn't see any signs of government. We were left at the mercy of God. We want to vote to elect a candidate who can help us in rebuilding our lives', he said. In flood hit areas of Mehjoor Nagar, Natipora, Ikhrajpora, Rajbagh people voted in large numbers. However, in Jawahar Nagar and Gogjibagh which were worst hit people mostly stayed away from polls alleging that they were ignored in floods. 'Why should we vote? What for? No one came forward to help us', said Farooq Ahmad of Jawahar Nagar. After the recent militant strikes aimed at creating fear psychosis, security in Kashmir valley was put on maximum alert to prevent disruption of polls. Police and CRPF was patrolling the streets and Polling Station were also manned by large number of security force personnel. Security forces had erected iron barricades, closed main roads with concertina wires to block the movement of traffic and prevent any trouble and disruption of poll process. Barring few incidents of stone pelting and clashes between workers of various parties, the fourth phase of polls passed off peacefully. Two persons including a polling officer were injured when a group of youth attacked a sumo ferrying poll staff after the conclusion of polls in Tankipora area of Srinagar. Soon after the polls concluded, a sumo ferrying poll staff came under heavy stone-pelting at Tankipora after which the driver lost control and hit an electric poll. A polling officer identified as Rauf Ahmad and sumo's driver identified as Arshid Ahmad Khan were injured. Both the injured were admitted to SMHS hospital where they are being treated. Stone-pelting broke out in parts of City including in Maisuma, Habba Kadal, Nawab Bazar, Nowshehra, Fateh Kadal and Safa Kadal as youth attacked contingents of police and paramilitary who were retreating after poll duty. Several vehicles were also damaged while as forces retaliated by firing teargas and pepper gas. In Soura area of Srinagar, five persons including three policemen were injured after a group of youth attacked Independent Candidate's cavalcade here. A group of youth pelted stones on the cavalcade of Salim Malik, an independent candidate for Zadibal Constituency, near Bilal Colony in Soura. Five persons including three policemen and two drivers were injured and two vehicles bearing registration number JK04A- 9892 and 01S- 255 were damaged. However, the candidate escaped unhurt in the attack. A group of youth pelted at the house of, Abdul Khaliq Sofi, National Conference (NC) Block president in Nawab bazaar area of old City. The stone pelting led to damages to the glasses and window panes. However, no one was injured in the attack. In Shopian, South Kashmir, a 25-year-old youth was injured after he was ruthlessly beaten by a group of persons for casting vote. Imran Khan, son of Bilal Ahmad, of Kiloora was intercepted by a group of youth after casting his vote this morning and was beaten. He was hospitalized and a minor clash broke out between CRPF and the group of youth. Workers of rival political parties clashed at nearly a dozen places during polling in Srinagar and Anantnag districts. Security personnel intervened and the violence did not impact the polling. The workers of PDP and Congress used fire pots as missiles during a brawl outside a polling station at Dooru constituency in Anantnag district. Police and paramilitary forces deployed at the polling stations immediately swung into action and chased away the mobs. No one was injured in the clashes, they said. Clashes were also reported between the workers of NC and PDP in Khanyar and Eidgah constituencies of Srinagar. Clashes were also reported between activists of NC and Lok Jan Shakti party at Habbakadal and Congress and NC workers at Bemina in Batmaloo constituency. However, police and paramilitary forces intervened and managed to maintain law and order.