70% Turnout in First Phase

SRINAGAR: With long queues and brisk polling through the day, 15 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday saw a voter turnout of 70 per cent in the first of the five-phase polls without any incident.

Around 70% electorate cast their vote in today’s polling for the 1stphase of the Assembly Elections across 15 constituencies spread in 7 districts of the State Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Umang Narula told a news conference here.

77% votes were cast in Gurez, 70% in Bandipore, 80% in Sonawari, 76% in Kangan, 53 % in Ganderbal, 75.6% in Nobra, 66% in Leh, 60% in Kargil, 71% in Zanskar, 68.83% in Kishtwar, 72.54% in Inderwal, 79% in Doda, 70% in Bhaderwah, 68% in Ramban  and 70% in Banihal. 

He said the polling percentage may increase as details are awaited from some remote areas.

A 61 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the 2008 assembly polls for these 15 seats — 6 in Jammu division, 5 in Kashmir valley and four in Ladakh. Today's polling was spread over seven districts. 

Narula maintained that the polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the constituency and in order to ensure that the polling is done in various inaccessible areas of the hilly districts 43 air sorties were done.

he Chief Electoral Officer said that the constituencies that went to the polls today were spread over seven districts for which as many as 1787 polling station at 1606 locations were set up, which included 85 critical and 558 hypersensitive ones.

The CEO said 123 candidates were in the fray for these 15 constituencies which comprised 1061275 numbers of electors including 558178 male, 503086 female and 11 third gender voters.

In New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi told reporters: "Polling has gone absolutely peaceful without any incident. It was 100 per cent flawless polls and there was not a single incident which vitiates poll process." 

The high turnout is described as a blow to separatists’ boycott campaign.

Groups like two factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls and a general strike as well. 

A total of 123 candidates including seven ministers were in the fray with the ruling coalition partners National Conference and Congress and the opposition People's Democratic Party(PDP) and BJP fighting for the spoils. 

In five Kashmir valley constituencies, two in Ganderbal district recorded 68 per cent turnout — an increase of 13 per cent from 2008 assembly polls — while three in Bandipore district recorded 70.30 per cent, registering an increase of 11 per cent. 

In six seats of Jammu division, two constituencies in Doda district recorded a turn out of 76 per cent while it was 70 per cent each for the four seats in Kishtwar and Ramban districts. 

While there was increase of eight per cent in Doda district and nearly four per cent in Ramban district, Kishtwar district recorded a drop of over three per cent. 

The four constituencies of Ladakh region, which normally witnesses high voter turnout, marked a decrease in number of voters exercising their franchise. 

In Kargil district, 59 per cent voters cast their votes against 72.90 per cent in 2008 elections. 

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